SYCAMORE — The Rochelle Hub varsity soccer team hung tough during the first half of Wednesday’s Interstate 8 Conference tournament semifinal match against Sycamore. But the fast and talented Spartan attack was simply too much for the Hubs to handle in the end.
With a mild wind at its back, Sycamore scored on a corner kick in the 41st minute, effectively sealing the fate of the Hubs, who conceded seven second-half goals to the Spartans in a 10-0 loss. Rochelle (5-5-1) will face Morris for third place in the conference on Saturday at 10 a.m. All conference finals and consolation matches will be played at Rochelle Township High School.
“I thought we held them off for a while, but they have a big, strong team,” head coach Brad Male said. “It wasn’t a surprise that they were faster than us, but they were able to capitalize on a couple of through balls. We moved the ball well, but they were just quicker than us.”
After missing a few chances at the net, Sycamore struck first during the sixth minute, using a cross from the right wing and scoring to take a 1-0 lead. With center backs Damian Salinas and Bryce Whitehead leading the Hub defense, Rochelle held the Spartans at bay for nearly 20 minutes before Sycamore scored on a breakaway through ball in the 25th minute. Using their speed to their advantage, Sycamore capitalized on another breakaway in the 39th minute.
“No matter what happens and regardless of the score, we have to keep playing until the end of the game,” Male said. “I think that will be our key for the Morris matchup. We were a player down the last time we played Morris, but we need to keep moving the ball how we did over the second half of the season. We need to look for the open player and keep communicating.”
Leading 3-0 at halftime and 4-0 after the corner-kick goal from the southeast flag, Sycamore began pouring on the shots as Rochelle struggled to keep pace with the fast-moving Spartans. Back-to-back goals in the 47th and 49th minutes put Sycamore ahead 6-0 before another goal in the 56th minute put a shortened clock in effect. The Spartans never let up in the second half, scoring in the 57th, 61st and 66th minutes to cruise into the Interstate 8 finals on Saturday.