ROCHELLE — There was very minimal defense to show from both the Rochelle varsity girls soccer team and the Sterling Golden Warriors when the Lady Hubs hosted their conference rivals Tuesday evening.
The two teams combined for nearly 20 goals in the game, with Rochelle senior Olivia Piloni stealing the show by scoring a game-high five goals. The Lady Hubs were short-handed on defense, however, and the Golden Warriors took full advantage, recording eight first-half goals and winning by a final score of 11-7 to drop Rochelle to 2-7-1 on the season. Juniors Viviana Belmonte, Kaitlynn Ost and freshman Lucy Monroy were all sidelined on Tuesday.
“We were down one starter on defense and we were missing our two top keepers,” head coach Brad Male said. “We’re looking for some of the other girls to step up and I think they just need a little more playing time. I think they will continue working together and getting in sync with one another.”
Despite double-digit scoring from Sterling, the Lady Hubs struck first in the opening minutes, as Piloni converted on an assist by sophomore Ayah Sbeih to give Rochelle a 1-0 lead in the third minute. Sterling evened the game in the 11th minute before Piloni put the Lady Hubs up 2-1 on an assist from senior Sarah Craven in the 19th minute.
The Golden Warriors took command of the game with four consecutive goals in the 21st, 24th, 28th and 30th minutes to jump ahead 5-2. Another Sterling strike in the 37th minute nearly put the game away, but Piloni managed to complete her hat trick with her third goal on an assist by sophomore Flor Becerra in the 39th minute.
“We scored first and I think that gave the girls some momentum,” Male said. “They continued to play hard, and I thought we looked even better in the second half. I thought the girls came around after falling down by so many goals. Olivia was very aggressive and it was phenomenal to see her score those five goals. Our girls were taking the lead up front.”
Two last-minute goals from the Golden Warriors put Sterling up 8-3 at halftime. Rochelle capitalized on a crucial mistake in the 55th minute, earning an own goal from Sterling before the Golden Warriors bounced right back with a strike in the 57th minute. Trailing 9-4, Piloni knifed through the Sterling defense and recorded goal No. 4 unassisted in the 61st minute.
The Lady Hubs earned the ball back soon after, and Becerra converted on a penalty kick in the 63rd minute after the Golden Warriors fouled in the penalty area. Sterling scored twice to lead 11-6 before Sbeih’s second assist led to Piloni’s fifth goal in the 76th minute.