ROCHELLE — The most successful regular season in at least a decade continued for the Rochelle Lady Hub varsity soccer team on Monday, when the girls sent off their nine senior players with one more home win before kicking off the IHSA 2A Rochelle Regional next week.
Hosting Sterling for their annual Senior Night match, the Lady Hubs started strong before eventually overcoming three unanswered goals to beat the Golden Warriors 5-4. Rochelle (9-9, 4-2 Interstate 8) has won three consecutive matches and will host the regional as the No. 6 seed. The Lady Hubs will face No. 4 seed Dixon in the semifinals Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
“It’s been a pleasure to be around these seniors,” head coach Brad Male said. “I look forward to the next group of seniors we have coming through next year. These girls have brought a lot to our program and I can’t thank them enough for all of their hard work over the last four years. Winning on Senior Night is always special. I think our communication has really improved since the start of the season and we’re really starting to find more of those through balls.”
Despite howling winds facing the Lady Hubs in the first half, Rochelle scored the first two goals of the match, with sophomore Kara Martinez cashing in a cross from freshman Betty Flores in the 11th minute before sophomore Sydney Thorne rolled in a pass from Martinez during the 14th minute. The Golden Warriors showed their speed late in the first half, however, capitalizing on three breakaways down the middle to score goals in the 15th, 23rd and 28th minutes.
Trailing for the first time in the match, Rochelle found the equalizer during the 39th minute, when Flores found freshman Makayla Lara for her second assist of the match and Lara’s first of two goals. Playing with the wind during the second half, Rochelle pressured the Sterling defense, taking several quality shots on goal as the Golden Warriors struggled to clear the ball.
Senior Lucy Monroy put the Lady Hubs ahead 4-3 with an unassisted goal during the 58th minute, finessing her way through multiple Sterling defenders en route to the net. Rochelle’s final goal came during the 63rd minute, where a long clearance from the defensive zone soared through the air and found Lara, who won a one-on-one matchup with the Sterling defense before tapping the ball into the net. Sophomore Danica Ward recorded eight saves in the win.
“We’re excited to have the regional at home,” Male said. “We feel like we’ve played our best soccer here and we’re going to have a tough matchup, but I think we’ll be in good shape as long as we continue to communicate with each other, look for each other and play our game.”
The Lady Hubs outshot Sterling 24-14 and 13-12 in shots on goal. Rochelle honored nine seniors after the match including Michelle Ocampo, Faith Lohse, Emily Garcia, Madison Ost, Ella Seebach, Cinthia Pacheco, Lizbeth Milan, Anayancy Lara and Lucy Monroy.