FULLERTON, CA – Hope International picked up its second GSAC victory in as many matches with a 5-2 final at home against the visiting San Diego Christian Hawks. Bacilio Hernandez powered the Royals' offense against SDC and delivered the Royals' sixth win of the season with his effort.
The Royals were dangerous almost immediately against the Hawks and were able to control the pace of the match early on, but it took time for their forwards to find the back of the net. The SDC keeper was tested early and often by HIU and earned his scholarship with several great saves for the Hawks, but HIU kept up its pressure and it paid off in the 36th minute.
Pedro Mendoza and B. Hernandez worked in concert to create the chance, bringing the ball up the field together before Mendoza played a ball wide for Hernandez who then pinned a shot into the center of the net for a 1-0 lead.
With only minutes remaining before the half, John Mejia was called on to take a penalty kick that he earned with a one-on-one against the SDC keeper. After a sliding tackle upended Mejia in the box, Mejia corrected the mistake with a strike into the left side of the net from the dot for a 2-0 advantage that HIU took into halftime.
After the break Mejia went back to work for HIU and linked up with B. Hernandez for the Royals' third goal of the match in the 52nd minute. Mejia beat the Hawks' right back and chipped the ball over a sliding tackle for Hernandez who finished it straight on for the goal. Moments later, B. Hernandez led a counterattack by himself up the left side of the field and fired a shot into the top of the net over the keeper for his fifth goal of the season at 54'.
HIU held onto its shutout for another 15 minutes before a scrum in front of the Royals' net turned into a goal for the visiting team. After a corner kick was sent into the box, HIU keeper Ryan Brown sent the ball away and then watched his center backs struggle to clear the ball before an odd bounce got away from him for the goal in the 70th minute.
Two minutes later HIU netted an answer with a goal from Alex Zuluaga to make the tally 5-1 in favor of the Royals. Erick Correa played a ball over the top and Zuluaga ran onto it before pinning it into the left side of the net for the score.
While SDC would net another goal on a free kick that floated over backup keeper Noah Stewart, Stewart redeemed himself moments later with the biggest save of his two-match career for HIU. Stewart was able to read the SDC striker correctly and dove to his left for the save that kept the match at 5-2 for what would be the final score.
Hernandez finished with his first career hat trick and outscored the Hawks by himself coming off the Royals' bench. Brown made a career-high 10 saves in just 78 minutes before being pulled to give Stewart some experience between the posts.
"It's always nice to be 2-0 [in GSAC] but we have to be smarter in the back," Coach Joe Lurker said after the match. "We definitely were dangerous on the attack – it could have been more than five, you take it one game at a time and I think we saw improvement from our last match to this one."
HIU improves to 6-1-2 overall and is 2-0 in its 2017 GSAC campaign while the Hawks fall to 3-6 overall and are still searching for a conference victory this year. The Royals will be at home once again next week against Menlo and William Jessup, while SDC hosts The Master's and Westmont.