Experienced Thunderbirds Spring Into Action

HALF HOLLOW HILLS, New York, Mar. 19

BY: Andrew Wroblewski

Spring has just about sprung again, and with it, so will the Half Hollow Hills High School East varsity boys lacrosse team.

One year removed from a second-round playoff run, head coach Gordon Hodgson is looking for the experience of his young team to get the Thunderbirds once again moving in the right direction.

The Thunderbirds’ boys lacrosse team starts the 2015 season on March 25. (Long Islander News photo/archives)
The Thunderbirds’ boys lacrosse team starts the 2015 season on March 25. (Long Islander News photo/archives)

“We have an experienced group with a lot of depth,” he said. “We’re quietly optimistic.”

Hodgson may have been a bit humble in the statement as Hills East is set to bring back All-County defenseman Nick DiPietro, this year a junior captain, and All-Division goalie Jordan Eicholz, a senior captain.

Along with that duo, Zachary Kleinbaum, the Thunderbirds’ final captain, and Mike Gomez, a freshman defenseman, are set to anchor a Hills East team that will look to its defense for success.

“We’re going to have to win games with our defense,” Hodgson said. “That’s the strength of our team.”

On offense, the Thunderbirds will look towards their youth to get the ball into the back of the net. Joe Tesoriero, a junior who scored 30 goals last year, Sean Lully, a sophomore, and either Mike Monitto or Ryan Doran, a pair of freshman, will make up Hills East’s trio of attackmen, the coach said.

Joe Wulforst, a junior coming off a season where he scored 12 goals, Andre Gomez, another junior who scored 25 goals last year, Derek Merckling, a senior, Richie Hogan, a junior, and Drew Quinto, a junior, are set to man the Thunderbirds’ midfield.

Hills East will look to build on last year’s League I season during which it finished 10-4 and earned the no. 7 overall seed in the Suffolk County playoffs. After beating Hauppauge, the Thunderbirds fell in the second round to Sachem North.

This year, the Thunderbirds kick the season off with a gamut of scrimmages this week and early next week. Regular season play begins on March 25 with a trip to West Babylon scheduled for 4 p.m.

“They have a good coach. They’ll be competitive and ready for us,” Hogan said. “We just have to focus on what we need to do… be patient and take advantage of our opportunities.”

Looking even farther down the schedule, however, Hodgson pointed out a matchup that the Thunderbirds already have circled on their calendar: a May 5 matchup against crosstown-, and now, league-rival, Half Hollow Hills High School West. The final regular season game for the Thunderbirds will be against the Colts in what could very well be a game with major playoff-altering implications.

“It’s always been a big game when we play them, but this time because it’s a league game it’s even bigger,” Hodgson said. “If both teams do what they’re expected to do, it’ll be a big game.

Originally published: Long Islander News: Half Hollow Hills
(Thursday, Mar. 19, 2015;  A27)

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