HINCKLEY — With several started sidelined on Monday, Rochelle’s varsity soccer team leaned on its freshman and sophomore players to step up when the Hubs faced Hinckley-Big Rock.
Freshman Alberto Casillas shined with three goals, while sophomore Eli Luxton added one goal and one assist as Rochelle held off the Royals 5-3 and moved to 5-5 on the season. Senior Josue Orozco chipped in a late goal for the Hubs, who were without their starting goalkeeper and two starters on defense. Rochelle will face Sycamore at home on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
“We’ve played some tough soccer over our last few games and it was nice that we had some kids out there today who were able to earn some more varsity experience,” head coach Brad Male said. “Our young guys need that experience and we want to keep working them in.”
Junior Christian Harding and sophomore Nathan Sergeant held their own as the team’s starting center backs on Monday, helping Rochelle keep Hinckley-Big Rock scoreless in the first half. The Hubs found the net in the 33rd minute, with junior Jared Montano finding Casillas inside the Royals’ penalty area for a goal to put Rochelle ahead 1-0. Junior Jace Whitehead connected with Luxton on a through ball during the 38th minute to extend the Hub advantage.
“Alberto’s intensity has helped us a lot and he really looks for the ball,” Male said. “He wants to score the ball and I like to see that from him. We just have to keep moving the ball effectively and working him into the offense so he can have more one-on-one opportunities.”
The Royals avoided the shutout in the 51st minute, taking advantage of some miscommunication by the Rochelle defense to cut the Hub lead to 2-1. Rochelle responded immediately, though, with Luxton assisting Casillas’ second goal of the evening in the 53rd minute. After Hinckley-Big Rock inched closer with a goal in the 59th minute, the Hubs answered once again, with Casillas cashing in on an Orozco assist during the 61st minute.
“I’m pleased with the way our young guys are playing right now,” Male said. “It’s just a matter of working them into the rotation during some of these games and getting them some experience. I thought they earned that experience today and I’m happy with their progress.”
The Royals had one final opportunity to potentially even the match late in the second half, scoring on a chaotic sequence inside the Rochelle penalty area during the 75th minute to make it a 4-3 match. But an error from the Hinckley-Big Rock goalkeeper allowed Orozco, who deflected a punt with his body, to roll an easy goal into the back of the net in the 79th minute.
The Rochelle Hub varsity soccer team hosted DeKalb for nonconference play on Saturday, falling 8-2 to drop to 4-5 on the season. Senior Josue Orozco and freshman Fernando Diaz each scored one goal, while freshman Alberto Casillas and junior Jared Montano each notched assists.