Goalie Joe Gigantiello, right, defends the net during practice at St. Augustine Prep, Tuesday May 25, 2010, in the Richland section of Buena Vista Township. The Hermits lacrosse team will play in the State Championship. Michael Ein

St. Augustine Prep's Joe Gigantiello became the fourth Hermits lacrosse player in two months to commit to a Division I school.

The junior goalie verbally committed to play for the University of Denver, St. Augustine coach J.C. Valore announced last week.

St. Augustine was 19-3 last season, reached the State Non-Public A final and remained at the top of The Press Elite 11 throughout its season.

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The 17-year-old from Shamong Township immediately settled on Denver after visiting the school.

"I like Denver and the school. The coaching staff is great and I liked the kids on the team," Gigantiello said Thursday. "I just knew that it was the place for me. That's where I want to attend college."

Gigantiello will receive some type of scholarship, but he said the exact details would not be settled until a later date.

Three of Gigantiello's teammates recently committed to Division I programs. Senior Nikko Pontrello (Loyola University), junior Steve Pontrello (University of North Carolina) and junior Tommy O'Neill (Penn State) all made their college choices in December.

Gigantiello had a 4.00 goals-against average and a .650 save percentage as a sophomore.

"Joe is a great kid and a fundamentally sound goalie. His strength lies in knowing the right way to approach each and every shot," Valore said. "He's rarely out of position, and his quick hands allow him to get his stick on a lot of what is thrown is way."

Other schools, such as the U.S. Military Academy, Jacksonville University and Fairfield University, made offers to Gigantiello.

Denver (12-5), finished the 2010 season ranked ninth in the nation by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association, was 7-0 in the Eastern College Athletic Conference, won the ECAC title and earned an NCAA tournament berth under first-year coach Bill Tierney.

Prior to being hired at Denver, Tierney coached for nine years at Princeton University, where he led the Tigers to six NCAA championships. He was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2002.

With his college decision out of the way, Gigantiello can relax and enjoy his final two seasons at St. Augustine.

"It allows me to be completely focused on St. Augustine lacrosse. I'm not worried about getting into a college. It's a weight off my shoulders," he said.

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