Boys Soccer: Short-handed Hubs drop rematch against Ottawa

Junior Francisco Diaz challenges Ottawa’s Grayson Skinner for the ball during the Rochelle Hub varsity soccer match against the Pirates on Monday. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Casillas, Salazar score goals as Rochelle falls 4-2 on Monday

ROCHELLE — A short-handed Rochelle Hub varsity soccer did its best to hang tough during Monday evening’s Interstate 8 Conference home match against the Ottawa Pirates.

Looking for the home-and-home sweep after defeating Ottawa 5-3 on the road earlier this season, Rochelle fell behind 1-0 during the first half, but did well to keep the Pirates away from the net, forcing several offside calls and errant shots. Despite finding two equalizer goals on the offensive end during the second half, Rochelle was unable to maintain control over the match, with Ottawa answering each time and scoring late in the half to hand the Hubs a 4-2 loss.

“We kept our defense together in the first half and we worked for the offside calls,” head coach Brad Male said. “I thought we did a good job of that today, but it was unfortunate that we made a few mistakes in the second half and we lost our goalkeeper to an injury in the first half… We’ve had a couple of errors after we scored goals and we have to make sure we continue to play.”

Trailing 1-0, Rochelle tied the score early in the second half, with junior forward Alberto Casillas receiving a pass from senior forward Diego Salazar and sending a right-footed boot into the back of the Ottawa net. The Pirates answered immediately, scoring one minute later on a through ball to retake control of the match. The back-and-forth battle continued midway through the second half, where Salazar dribbled into the box and blasted a left-footed shot in for a goal.

Playing without starting goalkeeper Antonio Hueramo, who suffered an injury during the first half, the Hubs faced pressure from the Ottawa offense late in the second half, with the Pirates converting back-to-back unanswered goals to seal the conference win. The Hubs were also without starting center back Bryan Garcia and starting forward Kevin Orozco, who were each sidelined with injuries. Rochelle (3-9-2, 1-6 Interstate 8) will play at Kaneland on Wednesday.

“We can’t get complacent and we have to make sure we play the game that we started with,” Male said. “We need to keep working as a team. I thought we played exceptionally well in our match on Thursday and we had a few injuries come out of that match that I thought cost us a little today. But we have to find players to fill those spots and we don’t have that cohesion right now. We need to keep working together and we have to keep improving our teamwork.”