Written by Ron Scaglia Friday, 05 April 2013 00:00
Several years ago, Joe Spallina was coaching the Rocky Point Girls Lacrosse team against Farmingdale, led by standout player Janine Hillier. Spallina devised a game plan around stopping the superstar, and was successful in doing so. However, years later, as Spallina leads the Stony Brook Womens Lacrosse Team in a quest for a national title, he is now focusing on taking advantage of the talented player as she now plays for his team rather than his opponent.
“She’s an outstanding, well-rounded, complete player,” the coach said of Hillier. “She’s one of the best players in the country.”
The best player in the country is playing for one of the best teams in the country. Stony Brook has been ranked number 13 nationally, which is the highest the university has ever been ranked in womens lacrosse. The team started the season with a record of 9-2, thanks in part to Hillier’s 30 goals, 15 assists, and a shooting percentage that is higher than 50 percent. The Farmingdale alum has made a huge impact in bringing Stony Brook’s Womens Lacrosse Team to a higher level.
“Janine has helped raise the profile [of the team],” Spallina said. “She has helped us to get recruits. She’s bigger than what she brings on the field.”
Hillier’s route from Farmingdale was not direct.
After a stellar career at Farmingdale High School, one that made her the number one recruit on Long Island, according to Spallina, she instead went to Florida, a powerhouse in womens’ lacrosse. However, after two years with the Gators, Hillier decided to came back to Long Island, much to the delight of Spallina.
“I wanted to get closer to home and I was really inspired by Joe Spallina coming to Stony Brook,” she said of her decision to transfer after two seasons.
Hillier is now finishing up her senior season, and although her career will soon be ending, she is not looking back as she and her teammates have unfinished business. Hillier is hoping to lead her team deep into the national playoffs, and finish off an outstanding career with an America East title and maybe even a national championship. Joining her on the team are two other Farmingdale grads, junior Alyssa Cardillo and freshman Meagan Meritz. Cardillo is a part-time starter who her coach says, “plays at a high level.” Spallina described Meritz as “a great talent, a fun kid and a real hard worker.”
As Stony Brook gets ready for the postseason, the team will be looking to Farmingdale grads, and in particular, Hillier, to lead the charge as one of the team’s captains. Her coach believes she is up to the challenge.
“Like a true superstar, she doesn’t turn the ball over,” he said of Hillier. “She make s the other players better.”
Hillier is a sociology major. After graduation, she plans on returning to school and enrolling in a nursing program. It wouldn’t be a major surprise if she were also connected to lacrosse.
“She has every quality that a good coach would have,” says Spallina of his star. “And she’s an even better person. She takes care of the younger kids.”