Entering Tuesday night's FHSAA Region 1-2A final against Catholic, Jacksonville Bolles players expected one of their stiffest tests of the season.
That never came to fruition.
The host Bulldogs (24-3) cruised to an 8-0 rout that was shortened by the mercy rule at Skinner-Barco Stadium.
Senior right winger Ryan Mahoney led the way for Bolles with a hat trick inside the opening nine minutes.
Bolles had outscored its first two playoff foes by a resounding 18-1 count, and wasted little time getting on the scoreboard against the Crusaders (17-8-1).
Three minutes in, Mahoney broke clear down the right and slid his shot home to the far post. A minute later he doubled the lead with a tap-in after Tommy Kelley's shot was spilled by the goalkeeper.
Bulldogs coach Jim Lieb was thrilled by his team's start.
"They had a high line at the beginning, and we were able to get in behind it," he said. "Our guys were very fast, the pace was good, we had good touches going toward the goal, and we were able to get good chances."
Jay Bolt soon added a goal of his own, flipping the ball over a defender before smashing an unstoppable high shot, and Mahoney finished his hat trick on the next attack from Kelley's cross. After 10 minutes, Bolles led 4-0.
"We came out today like this was going to be our hardest game," Mahoney said. "Good team effort with a lot of good crossing and finishing."
Kelley scored before Adam Demetree struck to make the lead six, and Demetree got his second in the 27th minute after controlling a perfect 50-yard pass from sophomore defender Berny Villarreal and chipping a ball that sailed over the keeper and dipped just under the crossbar.
A long-range shot from Gianluca Heatherley wrapped up the scoring for Bolles and invoked the mercy rule, bringing the game to a conclusion at the half.
The win came with unusual ease against a Catholic team that has forced the Bulldogs to work hard in ten previous postseason meetings. Bolles goalkeeper Brian DiLoreto never had to make a save as his defense held firm.
"Complacency is definitely something you have to deal with," Lieb said after the win. "So we just keep telling them ... that you have to believe every game's going to be close down to the final whistle."
The Bulldogs next travel to Lake Highland Prep, a victor over Pierson Taylor in the Region 2-2A final, for Friday's state semifinal.