From about 15 yards back, Tommy O'Neill reared back and rifled a shot past Shawnee lacrosse goalie James Bickel.

The goal, early in the third quarter, gave St. Augustine a lead it never lost.

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After the score, a couple of Shawnee players walked toward the sideline, shaking their heads and pointing out the obvious.

"That was a rip," they concluded.

Nothing much you can do about that.

The Hermits didn't look particularly polished in their 14-7 home win over the Renegades on Thursday night. They battled turnovers, and at times couldn't adjust to Shawnee's regularly changing defense.

But No. 1-ranked St. Augustine topped No. 8 Shawnee by relying on those shots that defenses can't do much about, the kind that leaves opponents shaking their heads.

"Their release is amazing," Shawnee coach Tim Gushue said. "They get the ball out of their stick fast, and we know that. They deserve credit. They're No. 1 in South Jersey for a reason."

Gushue's Renegades, who have battled significant injuries all season, lost another player when freshman Curtis Corley suffered a broken collar bone early in the second quarter.

Still, Shawnee looked sharp a against a team that has held its own against a nationally ranked schedule.

After the first quarter ended with the score 1-1, Mike Sutton, who led all players with five goals, scored two straight to give the Hermits a 3-1 lead.

"We looked a little flat in the first half," Sutton said. "But we came out in the second half and were able to pile on some goals. We have a lot of guys who can finish the ball this year. We have an offense that likes to shoot. We're not selfish, but if we see the open shot, we're going to take it."

Sutton's second goal woke up the Renegades. One minute later, Shawnee's Eric Meyer brought the margin back to one. Just 30 seconds later, Shawnee was ahead by a goal after scores by Jake Dean and Corey Munger.

St. Augustine (6-2) quickly tied the game, and reestablished the lead for good. But Shawnee's lead late in the first half was a symbol of the fight it showed, despite being outmatched in talent.

"We kept playing hard," said Gushue, whose team (3-4) has lost three of its last four games, all to ranked opponents.

The Hermits have won four straight, including wins against Ridgewood and a star-crossed win over Southeastern Pennsylvania power La Salle (Pa.), a game in which the Hermits lost senior faceoff man Bill McMenamin for the season with an ACL tear.

In the team's first year playing an independent schedule, Hermits coach J.C. Valore is happy with the progress his players are making.

"No two games have been alike for us this year," Valore said. "It's preparing us for the next step."

Shawnee   1 3 3 0 – 7

St. Augustine   1 3 7 3 – 14

Goals: S-Eric Meyer 2, Jake Dean 2, Corey Munger 2, Zach McHale; SA-Mike Sutton 5, Steve Pontrello 4, Tommy O'Neill 2, Dean DeSimone 3.

Saves: S-James Bickel 10; SA-Joe Gigantiello 5.

Contact Chris Melchiorre at rallysports@phillynews.com.