ROCHELLE — Brad Male has coached soccer at Rochelle Township High School since 2014. He currently serves as head coach of the varsity boys team, and after a few years working as an assistant for Chris Blevins, Male took over the head coaching position of the varsity girls program this year.
Male will be tasked with turning around a program that earned only one victory (1-16-1) against Oregon this past season. The Lady Hubs have returned to practice, and Rochelle will open its season at home when the girls host Mendota on Monday, March 18. Male said his coaching philosophies, which include emphases on conditioning and teamwork, will transfer over from the boys program to the girls program.
“I’ve been with the girls program for a few years and I want us to continue building on what we did last year,” Male said. “We have a lot of returning players… Conditioning is everything in this sport and we have to be able to go hard for all 80 minutes. We’re continuing to build our technical skills and I think we’ll keep progressing.”
The Rochelle offense will aim to increase its scoring output this spring after totaling only 16 goals this past year. All-Conference senior Olivia Piloni will return to the Lady Hubs after scoring a team-best six goals in 2018. Senior midfielder Sarah Craven, who recorded two goals and three assists last season, also figures to play an important role in the offense this season in addition to sophomore forward Vianey Perusquia, who had one goal and three assists.
“I think Olivia and Vianey work together really well up top,” Male said. “We want to help our girls build confidence and that’s going to be a huge emphasis for us. Once we get that first game under our belt, we’ll have a better idea of where we think each girl fits best.”
Junior Viviana Belmonte headlines Rochelle’s returning defensive players after finishing last season with 212 saves at the keeper position. Seniors Keelyn Sarmiento and Cora Martinez both return to the defensive line with starting experience as well. The Lady Hubs will look to get stronger on defense after surrendering seven or more goals 12 times in 2018.
“Viviana has more confidence after playing over the summer and playing in her indoor league,” Male said. “I’m looking for her to run the back line and keep our defenders up. Cora impressed me last year, and she’s impressing me more this year so I think she can step up and fill the roles of girls who graduated last year.”