DIXON — Rochelle freshman Zane Walters was in the right place at the right time.
With just 13.8 seconds remaining in Wednesday’s nonconference game against the Dixon Dukes, Walters (79’) snuck a pass from junior Adolfo Flores into the net, giving the Hubs varsity soccer team a one-goal lead and sealing a 2-1 win for Rochelle. Neither team had scored for over an hour, but despite light rain and slippery field conditions, Walters picked the perfect opportunity to propel his team to victory.
“One of their guys was shifting toward my position, so I moved to his position and the ball slipped through,” Walters said. “I just tapped it in. This win definitely boosts our confidence a lot, but if we play like this against Sterling, we’re not going to win. We have to try even harder and we have to be ready to play.”
Rochelle (11-6-1, 3-3-1 NIB-12 West) struck first when freshman Brayan Orozco (16’) scored off a pass by Flores, who assisted on both Hub goals Wednesday evening. Dixon wasn’t able to generate much offense in the first half, but the Dukes (38’) equalized the match just minutes before halftime, giving the home fans something to cheer about on Dixon’s Senior Night.
The Hubs haven’t made many personnel changes this season, but for the first time this season, Rochelle switched keepers in the second half, substituting junior Juan Montemayor in for junior and starting goalie Mason DeLille. Montemayor has primarily played defense for the Hubs this fall, but he adapted to his new position just fine, shutting out the Dixon attack over the final 40 minutes of play.
“I felt really good,” Montemayor said. “I felt confident and my teammates told me from the start that they had faith in me and they had confidence in my abilities… This game will help us improve and see the mistakes we made. This was a really important game for me.”
Rochelle will return home on Thursday for its Senior Night game against the Sterling Golden Warriors, and the No. 6 seeded Hubs will face No. 3 seed Sterling in the IHSA Class 2A Regional Semifinals at Kaneland High School on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 4:30 p.m. Rochelle lost to Sterling 4-1 earlier this year, but Thursday’s match will serve as a good primer for what’s to come in the postseason.
“We have to go 110 percent from the start,” Montemayor said. “We can’t put our heads down after little mistakes, and we have to keep going forward no matter what happens.”