KIRKWOOD — Joe Fisch was not even born the last time the Kirkwood High boys soccer team won a district championship.
The Pioneers coach came into this world in 1973 — Kirkwood's last title prior to Wednesday was in 1972.
The Pioneers made some history and continued their turnaround season with an impressive 3-1 victory over Parkway South on Wednesday in the Class 4 District 3 championship contest at Kirkwood.
Kirkwood won its 20th match of the season compared to just four wins last year. The Pioneers dropped their last 10 games last fall and scored just 17 goals the entire campaign.
"Last year was just one of those years," Fisch said. "It was not expected because the two years before that were good years. We lost a lot of close games."
Senior Sawyer Hardy said that the pain of last season played a role in this year's reversal of fortunes.
"This is a revenge year for us," Hardy said. "I think the biggest difference between last year and this year is our mentality. We are team first and everybody gives 100 percent effort the moment they step on the field."
Senior Theo Ruppert is also enjoying the turnaround.
"We had a lot of problems last year finishing," Ruppert said. "This year, I feel we are a better all-around team and we have done a better job of taking advantage of our chances."
The Pioneers (20-4) scored two of their goals on corner kicks and another on a penalty kick. Ruppert assisted on both corner kicks.
"We take those seriously," Ruppert said of the corners. "We know that those could be some of the best opportunities to score."
Peyton Boyd converted one of Ruppert's corners to open the scoring midway through the first half. Hardy scored on a penalty kick in the final minute for a 2-0 lead at the break.
Andres Guzman added an insurance goal on a header off a corner kick with less than 10 minutes to play.
"We put a lot of emphasis on set pieces, especially late in the season," Fisch said. "In big games like this, it could be the difference. We actually put as much emphasis on defending in those situations."
Bryce Lorts scored with 88 seconds left for South.
"I felt we played in spurts tonight," Parkway South coach Dave Gauvain said. "There were times when we lost our composure and control and they took advantage. I was very happy with the season overall. We got better with each game and put together some good quality wins at the end of the season."
One of those came in the semifinal round when the Patriots (13-9-1) defeated Eureka 4-2.
Kirkwood is on a roll and will host CBC in Tuesday's sectional round.
"The guys were not happy with the way things ended last year," Fisch said. "They put in the work and they understand that you don't accomplish these kinds of things individually, but as a whole unit. I knew I had a strong senior class coming back, but each year you don't know what you are getting. We are enjoying every day."
And those happy days will continue — at least until Tuesday.
"This has been great so far," Hardy said. "But our work is not over."