BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP - Graduations and injuries gave the St. Augustine Prep lacrosse team a far different look for its season-opening game Monday than it had a year ago.
Moorestown stepped it up in the second half and beat the new-look Hermits 8-5 in a nonleague game.
Younger players got plenty of playing time for the Prep as the two quick teams went end to end in seconds but then guarded each other closely around the net. The score was 4-4 five minutes into the third quarter, but the visiting Quakers scored three unanswered goals in the final six minutes of the quarter.
Moorestown, of the Skyland Conference, and St. Augustine, an independent, are considered two of southern New Jersey's top teams.
"Those three goals at the end of the third quarter made it tough to come back," St. Augustine coach J.C. Valore said. "They had a nice offensive set. It didn't help that we went 1-for-4 (on scoring chances) with a man up. But we played hard and it was a good experience. The goal is to be ready by late May."
The Hermits could be much improved by then.
St. Augustine lost four first-team Press All-Stars to graduation last year following a 13-6 season in which it finished ranked No. 1 in The Press Elite 11.
Perhaps an even bigger factor in the Hermits' performance was the injuries to senior attack Mike Sutton (broken hand) and junior attack Dean DeSimone (torn meniscus). Sutton, the Prep's leading scorer last year with 55 goals, might return in 3-6 weeks, according to Valore, and DeSimone could return in about four weeks.
"We can't dwell on today's loss because we have a lot of improving to do," Valore said. "We had a lot of sophomores and freshmen mixed in with our juniors and seniors playing today. The younger players are getting experience, and when Mike and Dean come back, (the younger players will) all be better for it."
Moorestown's Matt Olbrich had an early break upfield and fired in the game's first goal on the run.
But the Prep went up 2-1. Freshman Jared Chiachetti tied it from in front, and sophomore Chase Young scored while leaning to his right.
Moorestown's Michael Hanlan scored the first of his two goals, and Prep sophomore Joe Eisele gave the Hermits their final lead at 3-2 with 2 minutes, 22 seconds left in the half. Moorestown's Wade Dickey made it 3-3 at halftime as he beat the buzzer.
"St. Augustine is a tough opponent to start with, but I thought we played great," Moorestown coach Baron Walenhurst said. "We got a good feel as the game went on and made adjustments. We were in the right place at the right time and made things happen."
Junior midfielder Aaron Denesevich scored Prep's two second-half goals, both from in front.
"When you have two quick teams, you get a lot of unsettled shots (fast breaks) quick off the faceoff," said Denesevich, a 16-year-old Egg Harbor Township resident. "They got the upper hand on fast goals. Our second-half turnovers caught up with us, and they capitalized."
Moorestown goalie Dan Willis had 12 saves and Hermits keeper Ernie Alvino made seven saves.
Contact Guy Gargan:
Moorestown 1 2 4 1-8
St. Augustine Prep 1 2 1 1-5
Goals-Dickey (3), Olbrich (2), Hanlan (2), Kuhn M. Denesevich (2), Chiachetti, Young, Eisele SA.
Goalies-Willis (12) M. Alvino (7) SA.
Records-M 1-0; SA 0-1.