COLUMBIA — With either Hickman or Jefferson City as its next opponent, it would have been easy for the Rock Bridge boys soccer team to look past Washington in its Class 3, District 9 semifinal game Monday night.
A pair of seniors made sure that didn't happen.
Matt Kelly and Ryan Schmidt scored two goals each as the Bruins defeated the Blue Jays 5-0 at Rock Bridge to earn a spot in the championship game.
Just five minutes into the match, Kelly found Schmidt open in front of the goal. Schmidt took one touch, then blasted a shot past the Washington goalkeeper to give his team an early 1-0 lead.
Rock Bridge coach Kyle Austin called Schmidt the team's blue-collar player.
"His stat line might not jump out at you, but he has scored some big goals for our team," Austin said.
Kelly later gave Rock Bridge its biggest goal of the game.
With three minutes left in the first half and his team playing sloppily, Kelly stole the ball from the Blue Jays' last defender and took off on a 30-yard run before beating the goalkeeper to give his team a 3-0 halftime lead.
Austin was not at all surprised by Kelly's big play.
"It was just a pure hustle play; he is good for about three or four of those a year," Austin said. "That's what Matt has been doing all season long. He's just really a vulture up top."
The most difficult part of the game for the Bruins might have been making sure they didn't start thinking about their future opponent in Wednesday night's title game too soon.
"It's a difficult task, they are high school kids, it's only natural they will look ahead," Austin said. "I felt like it showed in how we played in the first half."
"We talked about it at halftime, and I felt like they came out more focused in the second half," Austin said.
"We tried to use it like we did last year, as a game to set the tone for a postseason run," Schmidt said. "Hopefully it gets us on a roll."
Kelly said he hopes getting to host the district tournament will be an advantage for the Bruins come Wednesday night. Rock Bridge is set to face rival Hickman, a 1-0 winner over Jefferson City, at 6 p.m.
"Hopefully we can bring some fans," Kelly said.