Last spring, St. Joseph was on a mission to earn its first ever boys soccer state title, and the Jayhawks found themselves in the championship game.

However, Rowland Hall had plans of its own and cut St. Joseph just shy of its goal.

This year, St. Joseph was determined to redeem its 2022 second-place finish. The Jayhawks used the loss as motivation to fuel a dominant 2A championship run, which was capped off with a 3-0 victory over Maeser Prep in the finals on Friday.

“We’re very happy. We deserved this,” said St. Joseph coach Paulo Franco. “Last year we took second place and this year we did our best. We knew our roster; our players would do a fantastic job, and this is for them.

“We worked hard the whole season. It’s not easy. We did our part. We practice hard. It’s well-deserved and they deserve it. Last year we lost and it was more mental than technical. We had some problems but this year we were stronger mentally.”

St. Joseph walked onto America First Field on Friday with confidence, which it maintained through the title game.

The Jayhawks wanted to get an early lead, which they achieved with a goal at the 10-minute mark from Daniel Fontes.

Fontes nailed the shot from the top of the box to give his team the 1-0 lead.

“Daniel is a superstar,” said Franco. “That guy deserves everything in his career, but it’s unfair to talk about only one player. I can say that my whole 23 players work together.

“Daniel, he’s a fantastic guy. He was born with a talent. This is a group of players that work together and it’s not only him but the whole group.”

Maeser Prep struggled to generate any offense in the first half, as any push from the Lions was quickly stopped by the Jayhawks defense.

With 20 minutes remaining in the half, St. Joseph’s Carlos Garcia found Tomas Paraizo on a pass to the middle, which Paraizo redirected into the goal.

The Jayhawks had many chances to run up the score before halftime, although Maeser Prep got out of the half without allowing another goal.

The Lions played better as a team in the second half, as they had better passes and worked well together on defense, but unfortunately for them, St. Joseph never relinquished and did not allow Maeser Prep to score.

As time was winding down and Maeser Prep was desperate to get back into the game, it was Fontes who volleyed a ball over the Maeser Prep goalie for the final goal of the game.

“It feels great. We’ve been ready for this moment since the beginning of the season,” Fontes said.

“We’ve been working hard for this. We always knew it would be a tough game. We respect Maeser. We played our game, and it feels great.”

Fontes said the loss in last year’s championship match gave his team the experience needed to succeed in Friday’s game.

“I like to say ‘You never lose. You always learn with a loss,’” Fontes said. “The feeling when we got to the field was feeling different than last year, so it was a more relaxed game.”