A breakthrough brought about a barrage.
Following a scoreless opening half, the Carthage Tigers broke the stalemate soon after the intermission. The flood gates then busted opened as fourth-ranked Carthage ousted 10th-ranked Helias 4-0 in a Class 2 state quarterfinal on Saturday afternoon at the 179 Soccer Park in Jefferson City.
"The second half, where I thought we could play our best soccer, they just took it to us," Helias head coach Chuck Register said. "You saw it. It wasn't the prettiest."
An opening strike from Hector Marin preceded a pair of goals from Jonas Smith and a tally from Jessy Alvarado to send Carthage to its second straight Final Four.
"I felt we had momentum at halftime," Carthage head coach Jacob Osborne said. "Coming off the field that last 20 minutes of the first half things were really starting to click for us, but we weren't generating opportunities.
"At halftime we talked about the scouting report on where to attack. The kids did a great job in the second half of doing that. ... The kids did a great job of attacking what we perceived to be their weak spots."
Marin opened the scoring at the 37:14 mark of the second period off a corner kick, sending a shot past the diving goalkeeper into the net.
"Someone got open and we just missed our mark and it got through," Register said. "That's tough. We just had to touch the ball out, you know it's coming. That's the first thing you have to do, get that ball out. We just didn't do it."
Smith got his first at the 25:11 mark, taking a misplayed long ball and darting between a pair of Helias defenders before slotting a low shot into the left-hand corner for a 2-0 advantage.
"When they make it 2-0 that's tough to come back from," Register said. "Our guys worked hard. After that we just pulled everybody up as much as we possibly could. From then we just have to try to fight and scratch, we just didn't get anything on goal today. We didn't penetrate their defense and get a good shot off."
Helias mustered just five shots for the game, including a pair of easily handled efforts on goal.
"We couldn't find the net up front, we couldn't get chances," Register said. "They defended really well today."
Carthage, after being held without a shot on goal in the opening half, scored on four of its five chances on net after the break.
Alvarado got his goal with 11:39 left, finishing into a wideopen net after a cross from Melvin De La Pena drew the goalkeeper out.
Smith got his second with 8:12 left, blasting a shot into the lower right-hand corner following a scramble in the penalty box.
"We came out a little flat," Register said of his team's second-half play. "We just did the best we could and they finished this game. They're a good team, they're going to be tough in the finals."
Saturday's contest proved a complete 180 from an Oct. 26 meeting in Springfield, a 2-1 Helias victory.
"That day I didn't feel like we gave our best, and that's why I was disappointed whenever we left the field because I wanted to see what happened whenever we did play our best against Helias," Osborne said.
Carthage (23-5) will play Raytown South (15-12) at 2 p.m. Friday in a state semifinal in Blue Springs. Top-ranked St. Dominic (26-0) and St. Mary's: St. Louis (14-11-2) comprise the other semifinal. Carthage dropped a 2-1 decision to St. Dominic in last year's state championship game.
Helias ends its season at 19-6.
"Great season," Register said. "Some of the best seniors I've ever had. To get this far this year was just tremendous. We'll see what the future holds."