Costa Mesa, CA - Playing for the third time this season, Hope International and Vanguard faced off in the GSAC playoffs on Wednesday afternoon. After coming up short in the first two meetings, the Royals held on for a 1-0 win against the Lions. Sophomore Shahram Aghayousef scored a nice goal for the only tally of the game.
The Royals (11-7-1) controlled much of the first half possession.
Senior Zach Hoffer took three of the first four shots of the contest with his third shot bending right toward the goal forcing a save from Vanguard's Luca Licciardi.
The Lions (7-9-3) took three shots in a row. Kyle O'Brien's shot was blocked, Edgar Hernandez went wide, and Kevin Cornwall had his shot saved by Senior goalkeeper Jhovany Hernandez. Hernandez finished with two saves.
The teams went into the half knotted 0-0 with Hope International outshooting Vanguard 9-5.
Seven minutes into the second half, Hope International connected well when Hoffer received a pass on the left sideline, megged a defender, and created an open look for Freshman Eduardo Zavala but his low driven shot was saved by Licciardi.
In the 58th minute, Hope International tried the right sideline on a build up from the back- Hernandez to Junior Karlo Soto-Castillo who one touched a ball for Junior Juan-Carlos Rodriguez. Rodriguez delivered a through ball for Aghayousef. Aghayousef beat his defender and carried the ball toward the right byline and with defenders crashing inside-outed a shot into the left side netting.
When asked after the game about the goal, Aghayousef admitted, "I had no angle, they took away my cross opportunities so I bent it around the keeper."
In the 77th minute, Aghayousef ripped a shot from 30 plus yards out that sailed just left of the goal. Just minutes later, following a corner, Soto-Castillo drilled a shot from 25 yards out that forced Liccardi to push the shot over the crossbar. Liccardi ended the match with six saves.
Neither team had a good opportunity the rest of the way. Overall, Hope International outshot Vanguard 19-9.
With the win it marks the first time since 1998 that the Royals have beaten the Lions.
Head Coach Earl Alexander stated, "Vanguard played a good game. My boys played hard with a lot of emotion. We played solid defense and stayed composed. We kept the ball well and created several opportunities."
The Royals advance to the semifinals of the GSAC Tournament. They have to wait for the results of the Biola and The Master's match on Wednesday night. With the loss, the Lions end their season at 7-9-3.