WHEATON — The third time wasn’t the charm for the Rochelle boys soccer team on Tuesday evening, when the Hubs attempted to avenge two regular-season losses against the Kaneland Knights during the IHSA Class 2A Regional Semifinals at Wheaton Academy.
Despite possessing the ball for most of the first half, Rochelle struggled to stop the long through balls from Kaneland, and the fourth-seeded Knights capitalized on some misplays by the sixth-seeded Hubs to win 5-2 and advance to the regional championship against Wheaton Academy. Rochelle dropped to 13-8 overall with the loss.
“We came out and played the game we were hoping to come out and play,” head coach Brad Male said. “They had a couple of good through balls and those cost us. I was very happy with how we came out and played. I don’t think the score really reflected the game itself.”
A promising first few minutes quickly turned on the Hubs, as the Knights took advantage of a through ball down the right sideline to score in the third minute and take a 1-0 lead over Rochelle. The Hubs managed to find their equalizer, however, after sophomore forward Josue Orozco rolled a pass through the middle of the Kaneland box to his older brother Brayan Orozco, who booted a left-footed shot into the net during the 23rd minute.
The Knights stole momentum once again, though, scoring after an errant Hub pass in the 28th minute before earning a penalty kick after a foul inside the Rochelle box in the 38th minute. Kaneland took advantage of the freebie, scoring to take a 3-1 lead which stood at halftime. The Knights added a third unanswered goal in the 47th minute to take control of the match.
“The bottom line is that I hope our kids learned that no matter who we’re playing, we have to come out and play 100 percent,” Male said. “We have to play with the same intensity at the start of the game that we have for the full 80 minutes.”
Rochelle found new life late in the second half after the Knights committed a hand-ball violation in their penalty box during the 71st minute, resulting in a penalty-kick goal from senior forward Max Torres to make it a 4-2 game. The Hubs had a few more scoring chances soon after, but the Kaneland defense stood tall, and the Knights iced the victory with a goal in the 79th minute.