FULLERTON, CA – Hope International hosted CalPac foe Embry-Riddle (AZ) in a non-conference match on Labor Day, Sept. 4, and was able to stay perfect as two players made their 2017 scoring debuts for the Royals. HIU needed six minutes of overtime to solidify the win, but a golden goal in the 96th minute ensured that HIU would remain perfect with four wins in its four matches to date.
The Royals played like they were the better team in the first half and immediately took the fight to ERAZ with a dangerous scoring chance in the third minute of the match – Jorge Pineda's shot sailed no more than a foot above the crossbar after HIU was able to draw a foul from ERAZ's back line in the third minute.
HIU would generate two more dangerous opportunities early in the match before Bacilio Hernandez netted his first goal of the 2017 season in the 38th minute for an early lead. Hernandez took the ball wide out to the left by himself before playing back towards the center of the field and bending in a strike from the left wing for the score.
The Royals would hold on to their 1-0 lead through halftime and deep into the second period, but their lead was threatened repeatedly by the Eagles' offense. Ryan Brown was called upon to make a save early, just ten minutes into the second period, and would add four more throughout the second half.
Embry-Riddle continued its merciless onslaught and finally was rewarded with just under seven minutes remaining in regulation. ERAZ got off 11 shots in the second half and tied the match with a strike from their forward, who beat the Royals' back line on his own and slotted a shot into the top of the net over a diving Brown for the 1-1 tie. That tally held strong through the last horn of regulation and sent the match into extra time.
Newly refocused after the equalizer from ERAZ, HIU came out in the first overtime period and took immediate control of the tempo once again. HIU took the only shot of the overtime period and made it count after creating a corner kick on the right side of the field. Bacilio Hernandez played the ball in and had it punched away by the ERAZ keeper before a fortuitous bounce brought the ball to the feet of John Mejia.
The freshman made the most of his opportunity and moved the ball to his left, drawing a double-team before bending a strike into the far end of the Eagles' net for the golden goal in the 97th minute.
"I think this was one of the best wins we've had so far and we were able to get a lot of guys experience today," acting coach Girardo Hidalgo said afterwards. "[In the overtime period] everyone looked hungry, determined to get that win and… we got it in the first ten minutes which shows [the team's] drive and commitment."
The Royals improve to 4-0 with the win and will have two more CalPac opponents in their sights in the next ten days – HIU plays its next three matches on the road with stops at NCAA DII opponent Cal State San Marcos, Providence Christian, and La Sierra before returning home on Thursday, Sept. 21 to host Arizona Christian and open up GSAC competition. Catch the Royals' next three road matches with links from our website, hiroyals.com.