FULLERTON, CA – Hope International remained undefeated despite playing a man short for the overwhelming majority of the match against Ottawa University (AZ) on Thursday, Aug. 31. The Royals lost a player to a red card on a last-ditch tackle outside the box in the 12th minute, but hung on to outlast their spirited opponents with a two-goal advantage at the final horn.
It took less than a full minute for Joel Palomares to put a dangerous shot on goal from the left wing against OUAZ. The Spirit keeper made a great diving save on the play, but his teammates failed to clear the ball and actually kicked it into the net for an own-goal and a 1-0 tally 56 seconds into the Royals' third match of the year.
The Royals needed only five more minutes to net their first real goal on their own merit, as Pedro Mendoza collected a ricocheted save and put it into the net for a 2-0 advantage in the 6th minute. Javier Loya took the initial shot and was credited with an assist for his effort on the play.
Not to be outdone, the Spirit began to put together deep runs through the Royals' back line and tested Ryan Brown in goal several times before a one-on-one finally went OUAZ's way. Moments later OUAZ's prospects appeared to improve dramatically after another breakaway was stopped from behind by a sliding tackle that resulted in a red card for HIU.
The Royals, however, were not fazed by the call and netted another in response despite playing a man short. Pedro Mendoza scored his second goal of the match and his fifth as a Royal to put HIU in front 3-1 in the 15th minute after Palomares played a ball in from the right to set up the strike.
The Spirit continued to use their team speed to their advantage and would net their second goal of the half 15 minutes later, but the second of the half for OUAZ would also be their last. HIU went into the half after that with a 3-2 lead and would add another after the break to cement the win.
The first 25 minutes of the second half featured plenty of chances for both sides, but finally in the 72n minute HIU made good on a scoring threat as freshman Alex Zuluaga found twine for the first time of his collegiate career. A cross in from the left appeared to be well-defended for a moment before the ball squirted away from the foot of a Spirit defender onto Zuluaga's waiting right boot for the easy score.
However, tempers flared after the strike and the match devolved into a chippy, physical show of aggression and frustration from both sides. The Royals would hold on the for the 4-2 final, but the match ended with all the makings of what could be a great new rivalry for HIU if Ottawa (AZ) is admitted into the GSAC as planned in the future.
Brown tied a career best with nine saves in a single match and picked up his 14th win as an HIU keeper for his trouble. Zuluaga made his scoring debut for HIU and Mendoza continued his hot streak as mentioned above.
The Royals will ready for Embry-Riddle (AZ) on Monday, Sept. 4 at 3:00 pm on their home field – be sure to come out and watch on Labor Day as the Royals host the Eagles at Fullerton College! HIU will also offer live stats online at our website, hiuroyals.com, for those who cannot attend.