After her team was frustrated several times in the Mission Prep penalty box in the second half Thursday night, Elizabeth Sarabia scored the winning goal for Santa Maria from about 30 yards away.
Mission Prep goalkeeper Hannie Ellingen came out of the box, but Sarabia got the ball past her and into the right side of the net in the 70th minute (30th minute after halftime) to give the Saints a 2-1 Ocean League win on the pitch at Santa Maria's Ralph Baldiviez Stadium.
"I thought it was my only chance," Sarabia said of her decision to shoot the ball right away instead of trying to dribble past Ellingen.
"I didn't think the shot was going in. I thought the ball was going to go wide."
Santa Maria, off to its best start in league play in years, moved to 7-6-2, 3-0. The Royals are 6-7-0, 0-2.
Goalkeeper Sara Rodriguez preserved the win for the Saints when she made a sliding kick save near the top of the penalty box in the last minute.
"It was one-on-one. I saw (the Mission Prep striker) coming toward me," said Rodriguez.
"You just go on instinct," in that situation, Rodriguez said.
"Sara did come up big in the last minute," Santa Maria coach Cristian Alvarez said.
Yvette Abundiz assisted Sarabia on her first goal. Jessica Gil assisted on the second one.
Sarabia, after taking the pass from Abundiz, scored on a breakaway, as she would do in the second half. Sarabia opened the scoring in the 30th minute of the first half.
Rodriguez collided with the Royals' Olivia Rutiz in the penalty box in the 28th minute after the break, and Rodriguez was tagged for a foul on the play.
Rutiz was shaken up on the play, and Mia Kuchinski took the penalty kick for the Royals. She knocked the ball home to tie the score.
Other than the Sarabia goal, neither offense had much going on in the first half. Both offenses had plenty going on in the second.
Several Santa Maria thrusts in the penalty box came up empty. Twice, a Mission Prep defender knocked the ball away after it came near the goal line. Ellingen saved two shots from nearly point blank range. Another Santa Maria shot hit the left post.
Meanwhile, two Royals' right-to-left shots barely missed to the left..
Abundiz and Vanessa Mata helped the Santa Maria defense shut down the Mission Prep offense in the first half. Gil shut down several Royals' forays in the second.
The Saints' defenders were caught playing upfield several times during the last few minutes and had to do some scrambling. Nonetheless Santa Maria, with some big help from Rodriguez in the last minute, hung on.
"It was a physical game," in the second half, said Alvarez. "We expected that.
"Everybody played well, though. Our goal is to win the Division 3 championship, and the girls know that to do that they have to keep playing (as a unit)."
Santa Maria will play a league game at Templeton at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Paso Robles 47, Pioneer Valley 46
The Bearcats out-scored the Panthers (3-18, 0-5) 17-14 in the fourth quarter and pulled out a Mountain League win at Pioneer Valley.
Paso Robles overcame the 13-4 deficit it faced to start the second quarter. Steven Fuerte popped in 20 points for the Panthers. Braden Waterman did the same for the Bearcats.
Arroyo Grande 78, San Luis Obispo 70 (Tuesday night)
Caleb Whalen and Robert Hutchens scored 21 points each for the Eagles, who beat the Tigers in a Mountain League game.
Bryan Smith scored 17 points and pulled down eight rebounds for the Eagles. Charlie Bayer scored eight points and snared seven rebounds.
Santa Paula Invitational
The Santa Maria "A" team won the title, and the Saints' "B" team came in second at this meet Saturday.
Three "B" team wrestlers, Nancy Cholula at 101 pounds, Andrea Gutierrez at 126 and Estela Osorio at 160, won their weight classes.
"A" team placers included Erika Sierra (second place at 106 pounds), Destiny Garcia (third at 126), Adriana Sanchez (fourth at 101) and Isela Velasquez (fourth at 113).
Besides Cholula and Osorio, other Saint's "B" team placers included Fabiola Sanches (third place at 111 pounds), Lucia Santos (fourth at 116), Mariana Tello (fourth at 189) and Laura Negrette (fourth at 235).