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It was a breakout season for Half Hollow Hills East, which went 15-3 and established itself as a Suffolk County (NY) power just two seasons removed from a 5-11 finish in 2013.
One of the catalysts for the Thunderbirds’ rise was defense. Hills East only allowed double in goals in two games — vs. Suffolk County finalists Smithtown East and Ward Melville,
If the T-birds are to repeat that feat in 2016, they will need a big season from Nick DiPietro.
The Syracuse University-bound defenseman was enjoying an outstanding year in 2015 before the season was cut short by a torn ACL injury. After months of rehab, he’s back at 100 percent for his final varsity.
Now, here are Nick’s perspectives on the upcoming season.
What have you been doing to get ready for the season?
This past off season I have been working out at Xceleration Sports Training to improve my overall strength and speed. My team has also played in winter and fall leagues to increase our stick skills.
Can you discuss your rehab and how you feel you came out of it in terms of being back to form?
In April of last year I tore my ACL playing in one of our games. It was definitely one of the hardest obstacles I have had to face but I knew I just had to get through it.
I rehabbed also with Xceleration and the job they did with helping me was unbelievable. Not only do I feel faster and stronger then before, I feel mentally sharper.
Although missing senior year football was hard to swallow, I have all my focus set on this lacrosse season.
How does your schedule look, what games are you looking forward to most, and who are some of your scrimmages against?
Being in Suffolk County (Class) A every year, our schedule has plenty of talented teams to face. We will play all the top teams.
One matchup we definitely have our eye on is our season opener against Smithtown East. It’s always a great test to play the defending champs.
Of course we will also be looking forward to playing our crosstown rival (Half Hollow) Hills West as we do every year.
Our two scrimmages are against Mt. Sinai and Seaford.
What players on your team do you think will surprise some people this season?
Two younger players that will surprise people the most are both sophomores who committed to play Division 1 lacrosse. Both Drew Martin and Mike Monitto are middies that already contributed to the varsity last year as freshmen but are looking to have a even bigger role and impact this season.
What do you think the strength of your team will be this year?
This year are strength will be on offense as all of our top 6 players are committed to play college lacrosse and have all returned from last year. Our defense should be strong as well.
How do you view the race in your league and who do you think some of the contending teams will be?
The top teams all look competitive as always.
There are many good teams in Sulfolk A and being my fifth year playing in this league, I have realized that anyone can beat anybody.
This year we are hoping to go even further then last year’s quarterfinal finish.
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