Former standout Wantagh High School midfielder has become key defensive player for new Hofstra head coach Shannon Smith in her second season of collegiate lacrosse.
Wantagh native April Iannetta's versatility as a lacrosse player has been on full display early in her sophomore season at Hofstra.
After a breakout freshman campaign in which she was named to the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) All-Rookie team as a midfielder, Iannetta has thrived in a move to the defensive side of the field for her second year of collegiate women's lacrosse. The former three-sport star at Wantagh High School has caused seven turnovers in Hofstra's first three games and helped lead the Pride to the program's first 3-0 start since 2009 with wins over New Hampshire, Fairfield and Colgate.
Iannetta said she has embraced new Hofstra head coach Shannon Smith's decision to move her to defense while still having the "green light" to showcase her offensive game on transition opportunities off caused turnovers.
"Even as a midfielder I was always a defensive-minded person," said Iannetta, who in 2012 tied for the team lead in caused turnovers with 13 while also tallying 21 points.
Smith, who graduated from Northwestern last year as one of the most decorated college women's lacrosse players in history, said she decided in the fall that it would be beneficial for Iannetta and the team to utilize her athletic ability on defense in addition to moving up with the offense in certain situations.
"She has completely accepted the challenge and done a great job," said Smith, who led Northwestern to three national titles and captured the 2011 Tewaaraton Trophy awarded to the sport's top player. "She lays her body out there on the line for her team and she'll do whatever we have to do to win and that is amazing to have in a player."
Iannetta, who was also recruited by Stony Brook, Siena and LIU-Post, said playing at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium during county title games in high school is what first drew her to play collegiately in her backyard.
"Nothing really compares to playing on this field in this stadium," said Iannetta, who started playing lacrosse in fourth grade with the Wantagh/Seaford PAL.
In addition to excelling on defense, Iannetta also leads Hofstra in draw controls with 11, which has led to some extra offensive possessions in the Pride's first three games that were decided by a total of four goals. The Wantagh product has welcomed the chance to play for a women's lacrosse legend like Smith and her hands-on coaching style.
"Any chance she gets she tries to get into the practice and show us a little tweak we can make different or a change we can make and I think it's great," said Iannetta of her new coach. "There is nothing better than being shown what you can do instead of just listening and trying to fix it yourself."
Iannetta also shines in the classroom and was a CAA Commissioner’s Academic Award recipient as a freshman. She was an honor student at Wantagh High School while starring in soccer, basketball and lacrosse.
"I think [lacrosse ] helps me balance everything because I know that I have to get things done," said Iannetta, who is majoring in exercise science, of how she is able to stay focused with her academics while keeping up the demands of a Division I college athlete. "If I was sitting at home I'd never get my work done because it's not time-pressured."
Iannetta will try and lead Hofstra to a 4-0 start Wednesday afternoon at Marist, which features her former Wantagh teammate Sabrina Mattera.
"April is an incredible kid and an incredible leader and a phenomenal athlete," Smith said. "I am really lucky to have the opportunity to coach her the next three years and make her into the best player she can possibly be."
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