FULLERTON, CA – Hope International hosted the perennially talented Marymount California Mariners and was able to come away victorious in regulation after an outstanding performance as a team. The Royals got some special moments from several of their newcomers en route to defeating the No. 9 Mariners 4-2.
By Coach Joe Lurker's own admission, the Royals came out flat in the opening minutes and the lower effort output from HIU allowed Marymount California to score the first goal of the match seven minutes into the match. The Mariners' forward beat the Royals' back line and delivered a strike into the left corner to take the lead, but the early goal shook off the sluggishness for HIU and their renewed effort would begin to pay off.
The Royals began playing the ball to each other's feet more after the opening goal and maintained better possession and longer periods of control, which would lead to their first goal against Marymount California at 38 minutes. Pedro Mendoza crept in unmarked as Bacilio Hernandez and Steven Mendoza drew the defense to the right, and a ball played in for Pedro Mendoza was headed home straight on for the equalizer.
The two sides would continue to test each other into halftime and beyond without a change in the score until the 72nd minute of the match. After a foul was called against Marymount California, Jose Hernandez set up the free kick from 35 yards out on the right side of the pitch and rocketed a shot into the net for his second collegiate goal.
Two minutes later, however, Marymount California netted an equalizer after the Mariners' forward collected his own blocked attempt and sent the ricochet into the left corner passed a diving Ryan Brown. Brown appeared to be screened on the play by his own back line and was unable to make the diving save after reading the play late.
Not to be left out by his fellow newcomers, John Mejia helped create the next two scoring chances for HIU. 45 seconds after Marymount California netted their equalizer for a 2-2 tally, Mejia carried the ball into the Mariners' box along the left wing and drew a hard foul to set up a penalty kick. P. Mendoza converted the shot easily for the winning goal, and eight minutes later the pair repeated the feat with one exception, as Mendoza read the keeper and shot the ball into the opposite corner to collect his first hat trick as a Royal.
"Heart [was key for us] today," Coach Lurker said afterwards. "We went down early and it wasn't as if [our guys] didn't believe they [couldn't] come back. We also had two freshmen [perform well] with a big-time goal to go up by one and [Mejia] creating two PKs for us."
HIU is now 4-1 agianst the Mariners dating to the 2010 season and has won both of the past two matches – in both of the most recent meetings the win has come against a ranked Marymount California team. HIU will rest up for its next test on Thursday, Aug. 31 against Ottawa (AZ) at 3:00 pm. Tune in at hiuroyals.com or come out to Fullerton College and support your Royals as they look for their third straight victory.