TOPEKA — Kapaun Mount Carmel's confidence that it can break through and win a Class 5-1A girls soccer championship wasn't dampened by Friday's semifinal performance.
Caroline Kastor led Kapaun with three goals as the Crusaders cruised into the finals with a dominant 5-2 victory over Topeka Hayden at Hummer Sports Park.
Kapaun, which has advanced to the semifinals nine times over the last 11 years, will play St. Thomas Aquinas at 2 p.m. today, trying to win its first championship.
"I think our speed was a little bit too much for them in the back," Kapaun coach Alan Shepherd said. "We played some nice balls through and we got behind them a little bit and were fortunate to finish them off.
"This gives us some confidence. We have a huge day (today) against (Aquinas), so we've just got to get re-hydrated, get some rest and go back at it."
Kastor, Kapaun's top scorer, put the Crusaders on top with 24 minutes left in the half, scoring a breakaway goal off an assist from Courtney Gahagan. A few minutes later, Taylor Kruse weaved through the Hayden defense to give Kapaun a 2-0 lead at the break.
Hayden managed to make things interesting early in the second half when a shot by Julie Johnson lofted over the head of goalie Laurel Lujano.
However, it didn't take long for Kapaun (17-3) to take back control. Three minutes after Johnson's goal, Kastor scored her second goal to take some belief away from Hayden (13-4-1).
"I think it was crucial to get back at 'em and put the ball back in the net," Shepherd said. "That will kind of make them hang their heads a little bit more. But Hayden did a good job of not quitting. They're a good team and they didn't quit throughout the whole game, I didn't think."
Victoria Schimming put Kapaun up 4-1 with 26:08 left before Kastor completed her hat trick by heading in Gahagan's corner kick at the 21:29 mark.
"We didn't put enough pressure on them and gave them too many opportunities to play the ball in," Hayden coach Klaus Kreutzer said. "You know, when you're one-on-one with the goalkeeper, I pretty much figure that's a goal.
"They have speed and I think they're very good up front, but having said that, we didn't react they way I would want us to react. But they're a good team, absolutely."
Hayden's Kenzie Cox scored the last goal of the game with 17:45 left on a shot that deflected off a Crusader before finding the back of the net.
In the other semifinal, Aquinas (14-4-1) scored three goals in the first half on the way to a 4-0 win against Salina Central.
Topeka Hayden (13-6-1) 0 2 — 2 Kapaun Mount Carmel (17-3) 2 3 — 5
First half—Kapaun, Kastor (Gahagan), Kruse (unassisted). Second half— Hayden, Johnson (unassisted), Cox (unassisted); Kapaun, Kastor (Kruse), Schimming (Rathert), Kastor (Gahagan).
St. Thomas Aquinas (14-4-1) 3 1 — 4 Salina Central ()0 0 — 0