Fullerton, CA- Hope International and San Diego Christian battled for the final Women's Soccer GSAC playoff spot on Saturday. The Royals controlled play throughout and won 4-0. Four different Royals scored- Freshman Cindy Cisneros, Senior Kristen Enriquez, Freshman Allyssa Stencil, and Junior Cassandra Arroyo.
The Royals (7-10-1, 2-8 GSAC) set the tone of controlling the game early and never really let up.
Stencil hit a shot from 30 yards out that drifted right just 21 seconds into the game.
Two minutes later, HIU found the back of the net. Stencil hit a corner kick from the left side that bounced off a body or two when Cisneros hit a ball off a defender before one timing the rebound into the net. For Cisneros, it was her first goal of the season and turned out to be the game winner.
For the Hawks (5-11, 2-8 GSAC), one of their best chances offensively came two minutes after the HIU goal when several bodies were just to the left of the goal. The ball was kicked toward the net but cleared away just off the line by HIU defender Bianca Fard.
Following another HIU corner, Enriquez cracked a shot but a SDCC defender stuck out a foot just before the ball carried into the left side netting.
After the Enriquez blocked shot, despite Hope International continuing to maintain a large portion of the possession, only more four shots were taken the rest of the half. Freshman Brooke Williams put two shots on goal in the final minutes of the first half but the score remained 1-0 HIU.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Enriquez, playing in her final home contest, had two great looks at a goal but was turned away. The Hawks' goalkeeper Sandra Castro mis-hit a punt right to Enriquez who took a couple of touches in the box and let a shot fly that sailed well high. Minutes later, Enriquez saw her shot carom off the crossbar.
Needing to win by at least two goals to make playoffs, the Royals continued to press and maintained the momentum.
In the 63rd minute, Freshman Tara McNaught had a good look but her shot rattled off the left post.
Finally in the 68th minute, HIU broke through when Stencil delivered a pass to Enriquez on the HIU side of the field. The pass sent Enriquez on a half field breakaway with a defender just a half step behind. Enriquez out dribbled her defender before dribbling around the goalkeeper and knocking the ball into the wide open net. The third goal of the season for Enriquez gave the Royals the cushion they needed to advance to the GSAC playoffs.
But instead of sitting in, the Royals continued to attack.
Freshman Kristin Damon hit the crossbar on a long shot from outside. McNaught eventually gathered the rebound but her shot was saved by Castro.
Cisneros hit a shot off the crossbar in the 75th minute.
Three minutes later, Freshman Grace Kellogg got loose behind the defense and crossed a ball from the right byline just off the finger tips of Castro and Stencil buried the loose ball. For Stencil, it was her third goal of the season.
The Royals capped the scoring after a corner kick and scramble in the box, Williams played a ball out to the right for an oncoming Arroyo who promptly banged a shot off the left post and into the goal. For Arroyo, it was her first goal in a Royals uniform.
Freshman Jacqueline Talley ended the game with two saves on her way to her third shutout of the year.
When the final whistle sounded, with the 4-0 shutout and after learning of other results, the Royals had claimed their first ever trip to the GSAC playoffs in Women's Soccer.
Head Coach Andrew Paine stated, "In the biggest game of the year, you need your Seniors to step up. And Kristen did so helping to lead our team to our first GSAC playoffs in program history."