By Phil Anastasia
Will Fox pitched the first shutout of the 2014 season.
And the St. Augustine senior is not a baseball player.
Fox is a face-off specialist for the Hermits' lacrosse team. He won 13 of 13 draws on Wednesday, leading the way to a 11-1 victory over Haddonfield in the season opener for both squads.
"That's everything that you work for," Fox said of his ability to give the Hermits possession of the ball, time after time.
Junior attack Joe Eisele scored four goals and junior midfielder James Kitchen added three goals for St. Augustine on a cold and blustery afternoon on the Hermits' turf field.
St. Augustine officials needed to plow the field clear of snow to make way for the first game of what the Hermits hope will be a long season that ends deep in the Non-Public A tournament -- and deep in the warm weather in early June.
"We're trying to find out where we are," St. Augustine coach J.C. Valore said. "We took our lumps in some scrimmages but they were productive for us in terms of finding out what we have.
"This is a hard-working group. They played hard today and got us off to a good start."
Senior goalie Jeff Sabatini made eight saves for Haddonfield, which could emerge as a contender in the Group 1 tournament.
"This team has a lot of upside," said Haddonfield coach Damon Legato, a former teammate of Valore's when they both were players for Moorestown High School. "I was proud of the fact that these guys never stopped working.
"When you open up with a team like St. Augustine, it's going to show you where you need to be."
Possession was the key to the game, and Fox was the key to St. Augustine's ability to maintain control of the ball.
Fox said he became a face-off specialist as a sophomore. He has become so proficient that he's headed to Fairfield University, a Division 1 program, on a scholarship.
"Fundamentals and practice," Fox said of the secret of success in face-offs. "I kind of got in a zone early and was able to keep it going."
Fox's ability to win every face-off, and Moorestown's ability to maintain possession, kept Haddonfield on defense for most of the game.
"I told the kids they played defense for 40 minutes out a 48-minute game," Legato said. "To give up 11 goals to a team like St. Augustine in 40 minutes, that's not too bad."
Valore said Fox created opportunity after opportunity for the high-powered Hermits.
"When you have the ball that much, you're set up for success," said Valore, whose team will enter the teeth of its challenging schedule on Friday night with a visit to Pennsylvania power Episcopal Academy.
Fox called the victory a "confidence booster" for the Hermits.
"We wanted to start the season on a positive note," Fox said.
Haddonfield 0 0 0 1 -- 1
St. Augustine 4 3 4 0 -- 11
Goals: H-Patrick Porter; SA-Joe Eisele 4, James Kitchen 3, Jared Chiachetti, Charlie Kitchen Dean DiSimone, John Fox.
Saves: H-Jeff Sabatini, 8; SA-Ernie Alvino, 1; Brandon DiMeglio, 1.
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