Girls Soccer: Piloni leads Rochelle against Princeton

Senior Sarah Craven (left) pats teammate Olivia Piloni (right) on the back as Piloni points to the Rochelle bench after her first-half goal in Rochelle's game against Princeton on Thursday. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Lady Hub senior caps off five-goal week with two scores in 5-2 loss to Tigers

ROCHELLE — Lady Hub senior Olivia Piloni scored two goals for the second consecutive game on Friday, but the Rochelle varsity girls soccer team would need more if the Lady Hubs hoped to defeat the Princeton Tigers during nonconference play.

Despite Princeton’s high-powered offense finishing 30-for-33 in shots on goal, the Lady Hubs remained in the game behind goals from Piloni in the 25th and 52nd minutes. Junior Viviana Belmonte fought valiantly with a season-best 25 saves in net, but Rochelle was unable to muster enough offense on Friday, falling to the Tigers 5-2 and dropping to 2-5-1 on the season.

“I think our offense is progressing along pretty well,” head coach Brad Male said. “The girls are starting to look for each other more, and we’re starting to connect more on through balls. We’re improving our communication and I think that’s helped tremendously.”

Princeton took a 1-0 lead by scoring in the first minute of play, and the Tigers continued to fire away with their second goal in the 14th minute to go ahead 2-0. Needing an offensive spark, freshman Lizbeth Milan launched a free kick through the middle toward Piloni, who juked her way past the Princeton defense and scored to put Rochelle on the board.

“We’ve tried using Lizbeth in a couple of different ways but I think she’s a very strong player,” Male said. “I think she has a better idea of where she likes to play defensively, and she’s been a tremendous asset to us back there. She reads the game well and she’s been stepping up. I’m impressed with her play so far.”

Belmonte recorded five saves in the next 10 minutes to keep the Lady Hubs within striking distance, but the Tigers salvaged their third goal in the 36th minute to enter halftime leading 3-1. Princeton took its largest lead of the evening with a goal in the 51st minute, but Rochelle wasn’t finished fighting yet, as sophomore Flor Becerra connected with Piloni on her second goal to make it 4-2.

The Tigers scored in the 56th minute to seal the victory. Rochelle finished 11-for-14 in shots on goal and Princeton led the Lady Hubs 3-1 in corner kicks.

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