Salt Lake City, UT- Following a pretty even statistical first half, Hope International exploded for four goals in the second half to pull away from Avila (MO) for a 5-1 victory on Sunday. For the second time in as many games, Senior Matthew Howard led the Royals with 2 goals. Senior Edgar Bran and Junior Juan-Carlos Rodriguez both scored and dealt an assist.
The Royals (2-0) came out as the aggressors as they took the first five shots of the game in the first ten and half minutes. Howard took the first two shots including one off the post. Junior Karlo Soto-Castillo followed up Howard's shot off the frame work and ripped a shot that required a save from Avila's goalkeeper Pedro Vargas. Howard forced another save from Vargas that resulted in an HIU corner. Bran sent a shot wide following the corner.
The Eagles (0-2) returned the pressure over the next seventeen minutes getting off one shot and one corner while not allowing HIU a shot.
Rodriguez personally accounted for the next shots which resulted in the first goal of the afternoon. His first shot rang off the post but he collected his own rebound and buried the second shot into the net.
Two saves from Senior goalkeeper Jhovany Hernandez looked as though the Royals would take a 1-0 lead into the break. But with just seconds left in half, AU's Daniel Adams connected on a shot from 15 yards out just inside the post to tie the match at 1-1.
Out of the halftime break, the Royals came out and forced the issue again. Howard and Senior Zach Hoffer both put a shot on target before the half was four minutes old. A minute later, however, Hoffer did not miss. Howard played a through ball for Bran who sent a cross over to Hoffer who delivered his second goal of the season and the eventual game winner.
Less than 10 minutes later, the Royals (or more specifically Howard) added two more goals. Howard converted a penalty kick and then an unassisted goal. The two goals gives Howard a team high four goals on the year.
As Avila did not even manage a shot in the second half, a 4-1 edge for Hope international would have been plenty. But for good measure, Bran and Rodriguez combined for the final tally. Rodriguez played Bran who in turn lofted a shot over Avila's Vargas and into the back of the net.
The Royals return home from Utah to head back out on the road (albeit a much shorter trip) on Wednesday to meet up with Marymount College. That match will be played on the grass field at Long Beach City College with a 2:00 pm kick-off.