Royal claims back-to-back titles on the pitch

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Bob Kirkpatrick/The Sun Tribune - What looked like a sure goal for Royal off a long free kick by Alonso Hernandez was pushed wide of its mark by a fierce wind that wrecked havoc all match long Friday.

The Royal Knights were crowned SCAC East Conference champions for the second year in a row after getting past Connell 1-0 at home on a windy Friday evening at David Nielsen Stadium April 28.

“It was ugly and it was frustrating,” coach Jens Jensen said. “Playing in a hurricane is not fun. Tonight was a hurricane.”

The first half went without a goal as several shots by both teams sailed wide of their marks.

Royal’s Daniel Bonilla was rewarded with the only score of the match after a determined effort against the wind at the 64:21 mark.

“He beat the defender to a loose bouncing ball, shot once and had it blocked,” Jensen said. “The rebound came back to him and he drilled it into the net.”

It was the eighth win in a row for the Knights and moved Royal to 8-1 in league play and 12-3 overall, and nailed down sole possession of first place and the East Conference title for the second year in a row.

“We really had it (conference title) after the College Place game, but this win put us in a spot where nobody would be able to tie us,” Jensen said. When asked what the key was to the second consecutive conference title he said, “We’ve created some new traditions and cultural things. We have a good group of boys who are disciplined and coachable and a dynamic player in Mike (Rojas).”

Royal 1

College Place 0

Michael Rojas scored at the 27:51 mark of the first half and that’s all Knight’s needed to get by the Hawks Tuesday, April 24. Royal was on the attack throughout the match outshooting College Place 26-6. Rojas converted his lone shot on goal. The fuss was a bit physical at times with the Knights being whistled for 11 fouls – the Hawks had five including a yellow card on defender Hector Diaz.

“The chances were with us, but they did a admirable job staying compact and their goalkeeper played way off his line to come out and clear any balls that we played behind the defense,” coach Jens Jensen said. “It is a difficult place to play and it seems that grinding out 1-0 wins may be the norm when we go there.”

Royal began its current seven game win streak with a 6-0 drubbing of College Place at home March 30.

The Knights hosted Ki-Be Tuesday, but the results from the match was not available at time of press. The district playoffs begin Friday. Royal will continue to host if they keep winning. The district championship game will be played in David Nielsen Stadium May 10.

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