Boys Soccer: Second-half surge results in draw against DeKalb

Senior Diego Salazar battles for possession during the Rochelle Hub varsity soccer match against DeKalb on Saturday. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Barbs and Hubs each score two second-half goals in 3-3 tie

ROCHELLE — A fast second-half start on offense allowed the Rochelle Hub varsity soccer team to hold an early lead during Saturday morning’s nonconference contest against DeKalb.

Junior Fernando Diaz and sophomore Heilly Zepeda each found the back of the net midway through the second half, allowing Rochelle to break a 1-1 tie and command a two-goal lead over the Barbs with less than 20 minutes remaining in regulation time. But a series of defensive letdowns enabled DeKalb to score back-to-back goals during the 69th minute and even the match once again. After 80 minutes, Rochelle and DeKalb ultimately settled for a 3-3 draw.

“I was very pleased with how we played today,” head coach Brad Male said. “I thought we worked together and we showed better teamwork than we did over our last few matches. We were looking for the open player and moving the ball a lot better than we did in the past.”

The Hubs (3-4-2, 1-2 Interstate 8) struck first early in the opening half, with senior Diego Salazar booting a shot into the DeKalb net during the 11th minute to give Rochelle a 1-0 advantage. The Barbs found their first equalizer near the end of the first half, scoring in the 37th minute to even the match at 1-1, which stood at halftime and well into the second half. The Hubs broke the tie during the 61st minute, taking a 2-1 lead after Diaz sent an unassisted shot into the goal.

“We’ve been working hard on our offense during practice and we’ve moved some players around,” Male said. “I thought that showed today. We’ve moved some players into positions they’re not too used to playing, but I think our chemistry is working a lot better right now.”

Zepeda followed with another Rochelle goal during the 67th minute, coming up from the midfield area and finding the back of the DeKalb net to give the Hubs a 3-1 advantage. Looking for its second straight win after defeating Ottawa 5-3 on Wednesday, Rochelle was unable to hold off the Barbs, who capitalized on consecutive defensive miscues in the 69th minute to score two goals and even the score at 3-3.

The Hubs pressured near the end of the second half, putting multiple shots on goal and earning a trio of corner kicks, but Rochelle couldn’t find the winner. Sophomore Antonio Hueramo finished with six saves for the Hubs, who will host an Interstate 8 match against LaSalle-Peru at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday before hosting Belvidere for a nonconference match on Saturday at 10 a.m. 

“We made a few mistakes, but we’ll learn from today,” Male said. “We played pretty exceptional soccer today and I thought today was a win for us. Overall, I’m more pleased with where we are at this point in the season. We have our players in the right spots and I think we’ll progress.”

DeKalb ended the match with a slight advantage in shots and shots on goal, outpacing the Hubs 21-20 and 16-11 in each respective category. Rochelle had 11 corner kicks in the match, while the Barbs were held to only two corner kicks.