Hewlett's season ends in double OT


It ended too soon for the Hewlett boys’ lacrosse team. 

The preseason goal was winning a round of the playoffs. As it turned out, the Bulldogs never technically qualified for the playoffs. 

On May 13, Hewlett was eliminated in the Nassau Class C play-in round, losing a double-overtime heartbreaker, 7-6, to Carle Place/Wheatley. Hewlett, which finished its season at 8-8, had beaten Carle Place/Wheatley in the regular season.

“It’s tough because I felt we were the better team,’’ Hewlett junior goalie standout Daniel Lankri said. “We beat them earlier in the season so everyone’s ticked about it.’’

The winning goal came on an 8-yarder that bounced into the cage and past Lankri.  

“It was a decent shot - bounced in from a couple of yards,’’ Lankri said. “He had a good look but think I could’ve saved it.’’

The best part of the 2024 season was Lankri turning into a star. He only started playing goalie in eighth grade after being a midfielder. He was convinced to make the change by middle school lacrosse coach, John Palladino, who also head coach of the football program.

“It was just hard work,’’ Lankri said. “I found it pretty fun, getting hit by balls.’’

Lankri is now a three-time captain and won All-County honorable mention this year after making 203 saves and boasting a 68.4 save percentage. 

“It means a lot to me,’’ Lankri said. “My goal was All-County but I’m still grateful. Next year, I’ll be All-County.’’

“He’s been the backbone of our soft-zone defense and essentially our team,’’ coach Dale Pescitelli said.

From last season’s team, Hewlett had lost 10 seniors and 78.5 percent of its scoring after making the playoffs and losing in the first round. The goal was to win a round this season, even with the young team, but it fell short. 

“I wouldn’t say I was happy to make the play-in game,’’ Lankri said. “I felt we were a pretty talented group of guys and could’ve gone way further than that. We can beat most teams. I wouldn’t put my head down about it, but we could’ve done better.’’

Youth caught up with Hewlett. 

“I feel like we had a lot of new guys in new positions,’ Lankri added. “It was a relatively young team - some guys from JV. The key for next year is they keep getting better. It’s a big jump from JV to varsity. Those guys did well and there’s a lot of room for improvement on the field.’’ 

Hewlett still managed memorable moments in 2024. Senior Luke Rochler finished with 44 points, making 30 assists with a faceoff winning percentage of 65 percent. Ryan Rovner exploded for a team-leading 23 goals with 21 assists. 

But the key to the Bulldogs’ 8-7 regular season was Lankri and that soft zone that allows more shots than other defensive systems. 

Lankri said he felt he underperformed in two contests – including the Floral Park defeat. “I had a pretty good year, but I could’ve played better,’’ Lankri said. 

Zachary Tucker was again Hewlett’s top defensive player. Regarding the defensive strategy, Lankri said, 

“I feel like I’m pretty good in close shots,’’ Lankri said. “(I face) a lot of shots. At times the better teams you play they are able to shoot those shots and get better looks. Good shooters from 12 years out are able to put the ball wherever and in good spots and it makes it harder on me  sometimes. But the zone is good.’’