FULLERTON, CA – Hope International continued its season-opening homestand with its fourth straight match at Fullerton College on Aug. 31. The Royals hosted Marymount California and struck first in the fourth minute before bookending the match with the winning goal in the 81st minute for a final score of 2-1.
Daisy Gallegos netted her first career goal as a Royal in the fourth minute of the match to take an early lead, and the Royals would hold on to that lead for the next 30 minutes. The two sides primarily battled for possession between the boxes over that time before Marymount converted a free kick from outside the box into a goal over the head of HIU's keeper. The two sides would head into the match knotted at 1-1 after a final shot from Natalie Valdez sailed high at the end of the first half.
The Royals and Mariners largely traded possessions in between the boxes for the first 15 minutes of the second half – each side made their way into the opposite box no more than twice in the first fifteen minutes and each was whistled offsides on a scoring push to start the second period.
At 74' the Royals had a two-on-one chance against the Mariners' keeper with Jade Perez and Jenna Pinkerton, but the shot from Perez was just saved with a diving effort. Pinkerton's follow-up went wide to the right seconds later after the ricocheted save fell to Pinkerton's feet.
MCU put together several dangerous chances of their own, but the Mariners' shots sailed high or wide each time. As both sides began to tire in the heat of the day, Jazzmyn Esquivel stepped up in the last ten minutes and became the hero of the match after netting the game winner in the 81st minute. Esquivel took a ball played in from Gallegos via Perez and pinned it in the top left corner for the game-winning goal.
A furious rally from the Mariners was almost enough to send the match into overtime as the Royals struggled to advance the ball out of their defensive end. MCU was awarded several corner kicks as HIU's defenders were forced clear the box in any way possible, but the Royals' back line and keeper Jacqueline Talley were able to withstand the set piece attempts in the final minutes to ice the win.
The Royals have now won two straight and three overall in their four matches of 2017 and remain without a loss, as HIU drew last week against UC Merced. HIU will now have more than a week to prepare for its trip to Embry-Riddle (AZ) in Prescott where the Royals will face the No. 19 Eagles in the desert.