Boys Soccer: Hubs finish shortened spring season strong

Junior Caleb Ritter was one of two Rochelle Hub varsity soccer players who earned All-Conference Honorable Mentions from the Interstate 8 this season. Ritter finished with one goal and two assists this season. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Rochelle extends winning record streak to five years

ROCHELLE — The Rochelle Hub varsity soccer team relied heavily on its senior class this season, which was limited to only 12 matches and no IHSA State Series due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hubs made the most of their shortened, unprecedented spring season, however, finishing with a winning record for the fifth straight year behind a talented group of seniors.

Rochelle went 6-5-1 while taking third in the Interstate 8 Conference Tournament this season. The Hubs were led on offense by All-Conference First Team senior Zane Walters, who scored a team-high 15 goals while adding five assists. Senior Juan Cincire totaled three goals and led Rochelle with nine assists, while senior Josh Hurtado scored four goals. The Hubs will lose seven seniors from this year’s team including four-year varsity defender Damian Salinas.

“I was a little apprehensive going into the season, but I thought we did well overall,” head coach Brad Male said. “I look forward to moving on and having more of a normal season this coming year. I thought we came together toward the end of the season and we showed more of our normal chemistry. We struggled earlier in the season, but the kids continued to improve and come together. I’m looking forward to a lot of big things from our returning players next season.”

Junior Bryce Whitehead, who earned All-Conference First Team honors on defense, headlines Rochelle’s returning varsity players next season. Sophomore Jace Whitehead (two goals, two assists) and junior Caleb Ritter (one goal, two assists) both received All-Conference Honorable Mentions this year and could see increased roles next year. Sophomores Jarret Milan and Diego Cincire combined for 59 saves in net, with Milan recording 38 saves to lead the way.

Freshmen Eli Luxton and Diego Salazar shined in their first years on the varsity team, with Luxton recording eight goals and two assists while Salazar added four goals and five assists.

“I’m hoping to see a return to normal for us,” Male said. “We need to work on our conditioning and we have to be able to play 80 solid minutes of soccer. I’m hoping we’ll have everybody back next year and I’m looking for leadership out of players like Bryce, who was a captain this year and showed great leadership. It will be hard to replace players like Zane, Juan, Josh and Damian, but the players we have coming back will be great assets for our team.”

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