ROCHELLE — A young roster didn’t hold the Hubs soccer team back from winning 12 games and defeating conference rival Sterling during the IHSA Class 2A Regional at Kaneland High School last season. With nearly all of Rochelle’s varsity players returning this season, head coach Brad Male and new assistant coach Koby Stern will be looking to continue improving on what the Hubs accomplished in 2017.
Rochelle began its season last year with a 3-0 sweep to win the War on 34 Tournament, and the Hubs will once again kick off their season this fall at the same tournament, which begins on Thursday, Aug. 23. The Hubs began official practices on Wednesday, and after working through summer conditioning over the offseason, Male said Rochelle’s fitness on the field can be a key difference maker this season.
“We had a lot of boys come out over the summer and I thought they worked hard,” Male said. “Our conditioning played a big role in what we were able to accomplish on the field. Our communication came along over the middle of the season, and I think our teamwork really showed by the end of the season.”
Rochelle will return three All-Conference First Team players including senior forwards Jessee Infante and sophomore Brayan Orozco, who combined for 50 goals last season, five more than all of Rochelle’s opponents scored combined (45). Senior midfielder Adolfo Flores, Rochelle’s third All-Conference First Team player, totaled 16 assists in 2017 while junior midfielders Austin Brown and Max Torres teamed up for 14 goals and nine assists.
“Teamwork is going to be more crucial for us this year,” Male said. “We built on teamwork throughout the year and I think we need to continue building on that.”
Senior Mason DeLille led the Hubs in net with 106 saves last season. Both he and senior Juan Montemayor will return after earning varsity reps at goalkeeper, while senior defenders Josue Almaraz, Ruben Herrera and junior Gyvanziel Quinonez will anchor the back line for the Hubs this fall. Rochelle will be seeking to replace two starting spots vacated by former seniors Komla Gati and Jesus Nava.
“Communication is going to be a key for them,” Male said. “Continuing to work together and work into our midfielders will be important for us… I always look forward to building on what we did last year. We didn’t have the numbers I was hoping for, but we all worked well by the end of the year… Komla and [Chucho] were good players for us, and hopefully we can have some players step up.”