COLUMBIA — The Rock Bridge boys soccer team ended the season the way they wanted, with a win.
It was six hours before they would have preferred.
A loss to Oakville in the Class 3 semifinals on Friday night forced Rock Bridge (28-4) to play Lee's Summit West (24-8) for third place at noon Saturday instead of for first place against DeSmet at 6 p.m.
The Bruins defeated the Titans 1-0 to secure the program's best finish. Last year, Rock Bridge finished in a tie for third place after tying with St. Louis University High School 1-1 in the third-place match.
"We definitely didn't want to come out here and end it in a tie like we did last year," said Bruins senior Sam Stoeckl, who scored the deciding goal in Saturday's game.
Rock Bridge junior Ryan Stanowski agreed.
"It's definitely more special having it (third place) all to yourself," Stanowski said.
For Stanowski, the game came down to pride.
"Obviously, both teams playing in this game are going to be disappointed in not making it to the finals," Stanowski said. "But then again you have a chance to end the season on a win, which only two teams in the class get to do."
For Stoeckl, it was about going out in a positive way.
"Once we got out there and started playing, everyone realized this is the last game we're all going to get to play together," Stoeckl said. "This is the last time we get to play the game we love with the people we love."
Even with a chance to finish the season with a win, the Bruins couldn't help but think about what could have been.
"We were still frustrated over it (Friday night's game)," Stoeckl said. "But I really don't think we thought about it much during the game. We just kind of used our emotions from last night in today's game.
Rock Bridge coach Kyle Austin said he was proud of the way the Bruins responded to their loss to Oakville.
"This group of kids deserves to go out on a win after the season they had," Austin said. "To end the season on a positive note, with a win, I think is just huge."
Despite losing 11 seniors, eight of whom were starters, Austin said he is confident his team can get back to the final four next year.
"We've got a solid foundation for a team, who I think, their goal is to be back here next year," Austin said. "They can feed off that feeling they had last night and use it as motivation next year."