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Mater Dei turns early goal into 3-0 win over Santiago
CORONA – The winning goal came just 18 seconds into an 80-minute game.
Mater Dei forward Hailey Hopkins scored twice in the first half, including the decisive goal in the opening moments, to lead the Monarchs to a 3-0 nonleague victory over Santiago of Corona on Thursday night.
Pressuring from the first kick, Hopkins controlled an errant pass in Santiago’s defensive third, took a dribble and applied a calm finishing strike with less than 20 seconds expired from the game clock.
“We were in a deficit so early against a very quality side (and) chasing the scoreboard on something that was self-inflicted,” Santiago coach Mike Fleming said. “That’s never the way you want to start.”
The goal forced Santiago (7-5-3 overall) to search for an equalizer that never materialized as Mater Dei (11-2-2) absorbed the Sharks’ first-half pressure before clamping down in the second half.
“We thought it would be important to get out to a good start. We didn’t know it was going to be that good,” Mater Dei coach Matty West said. “That’s something we stress – being really opportunistic – and if we catch a break to take advantage of it.”
Samantha Dong and Jill Olguin had Santiago’s best chances in the first half. Dong’s headed attempt in the ninth minute forced a tip save from Mater Dei goalkeeper Madison Puliafico, and Puliafico came up big to stop Olguin’s point-blank blast 10 minutes later.
“I thought (Puliafico) was sensational tonight,” West said. “She showed a lot of confidence and really set the tone for the defense.”
Santiago outshot Mater Dei, 7-3, in the first half and seemed on the verge of a breakthrough when the ball was played into the Monarchs’ end for a throw-in, which Hopkins controlled at the top of the penalty area and buried for a 2-0 lead in the 36th minute.
“We’ve been creating a lot of chances, and something we want to get better at is not letting them get away from us,” West said. “We put our foot down and that second goal was really important.”
The Sharks, last season’s CIF-Southern Section Division 2 champions, were ineffective in their attacking forays in the second half, winning just two unsuccessful corner kicks.
“We didn’t have that final-third ability or that finish or composure to make all our work manufacture into something,” Fleming said.
Santiago senior midfielder Raven Sweeney, an all-CIF Division 2 first team selection, sat the first 15 minutes for violating a team rule. She was 12 for 14 passing, but did not attempt a shot.
Mater Dei, last year’s CIF-SS Division 1 champs, got a third goal in the 63rd minute when Olivia Ware scored past Santiago freshman Jaden Sutton.