The Helias Crusaders wanted to make this district soccer tournament special.
They did. They've got the trophy to prove it.
"It means everything," Helias forward Zach Paschal said Thursday night after recording a hat track as the Crusaders defeated the Camdenton Lakers 6-1 to claim the Class 3 District 9 championship at the Crusader Athletic Complex. "Being a senior and winning it here at home is special."
It was the first district tournament played at the Crusader Athletic Complex.
"This is very special," Helias coach Jay Hebenheimer said. "We've been successful in districts before, but we've never had the opportunity to be successful at home in districts."
With the win, Helias (8-15-1) will host Glendale (12-11) in the sectionals Tuesday.
"It will be great to get the next one at home," Paschal said.
Glendale won the District 10 title Thursday night with a 3-1 victory against Lebanon.
"We got a little more rust knocked off tonight and it's time to take another step forward," Hebenheimer said.
The Crusaders got a scare early Tuesday when goalkeeper Ben Rehagen went down with an injury after a collision a little more than two minutes into the game.
"My keeper's laying on the ground in a heap, that's not the way we wanted to start the game," Hebenheimer said.
Alex Tesreau came on in place of Rehagen, who returned after about seven minutes of game time.
Rehagen was tested less than a minute after getting back in the game. Josh Gerdiman of Camdenton sprinted down the right side on a breakaway and lined a shot Rehagen was able to knock away to keep the contest scoreless.
Paschal got the Crusaders on the board with about 25 minutes remaining in the first half, scoring on an assist by Isaac Johnson. The duo switched roles about four minutes later, with Johnson scoring off an assist by Paschal, to give the Crusaders a 2-0 advantage.
Camdenton cut the deficit to one less than a minute later when Gerdiman scored on a breakaway.
"We didn't let down, it didn't take any air out of our sails," Hebenheimer said. "We knew if we stuck to our game plan, we were going to be successful."
Helias finished with a 12-4 edge in shots in the first half, but had just the one-goal lead.
"That wasn't our best half," Paschal said.
The Crusaders got rolling early in the second half, compliments of Paschal and Johnson.
Paschal got his second goal of the night about eight minutes into the half, a header assisted by Johnson, to make it 3-1.
"You can see the chemistry between those two is starting to come back," Hebenheimer said.
Johnson missed much of the second half of the season with an injury.
"It's great having him back, he's a great player," Paschal said.
Johnson got his second goal of the night with about 23 minutes left in the game to increase Helias' lead to 4-1. Paschal capped his hat trick with a score coming with a little less than 18 minutes to play, assisted by Luke Hynes.
Ryan Hake finished the scoring with about nine minutes left on a penalty kick.
"We dominated the second half and we were able to finish, it was awesome," Paschal said.
Helias played the last 30 minutes of the game down a man after a red card.
"The game got a little emotional at times, the message to the boys was to keep their composure," Hebenheimer said. "We couldn't lose control, that's too easy a way to get taken out of our game plan."
Hebenheimer believes this is a team that can advance to the Final Four.
"If we stay connected and confident, knowing we can trust each other, we can make a deep run," he said.
The start time for Tuesday's sectional contest has not been determined.
"It's one game a time, one step at a time," Hebenheimer said.