ROCHELLE — Seven unanswered goals from the Rochelle Hub varsity soccer team were more than enough to seal Monday’s Interstate 8 Conference opener against the Plano Reapers.
Senior Josue Orozco finished with four goals, while sophomore Eli Luxton added a hat trick with three goals as the Hubs overcame their brief first-half deficit to dismantle the Reapers 9-2 and improve to 2-2 on the season. Plano struck first in the opening minute, capitalizing against a Rochelle defense without senior starter Bryce Whitehead, who was out with an injury.
But the Hub offense found its rhythm around the midway point of the first half, equalizing the match on a breakaway during the 15th minute, when Orozco beat the Plano defense down the field and rolled the ball across the Reaper box for freshman Alberto Casillas’ game-tying goal.
Rochelle then took the lead in the 24th minute, when juniors Jace Whitehead and Evin Odle connected on a through ball down the middle, with Odle booting the left-footed shot into the back of the Plano net. Luxton added to the Hub lead soon after, lofting a shot over multiple Reaper defenders during the 30th minute and finding the goal to make it a 3-1 contest.
“It feels great,” Luxton said. “We’ve been working hard during practice and we’ve been running a lot so I feel like we’re in very good shape. We’ve been passing the ball well and getting the ball outside to our wings. We want to be undefeated for the rest of the season and I feel like we have a group that works really hard. I want to do the best I can for my team this year.”
Orozco recorded his first goal of the match during the 32nd minute, cashing in an assist from junior Ian Nambo before Luxton scored an unassisted goal in the 34th minute to further extend Rochelle’s lead. Orozco beat the Plano defense one more time to close out the first half, using his dominant left foot to send his second goal of the match into the net during the 37th minute.
“We had a lot of support today and it was nice to hear the fans supporting us,” Whitehead said. “Josue’s playing really well right now and we like to play through him. We’re trying to get the ball outside more often, but Josue’s really effective when we get him the ball through the middle. We have a good attack this season and we have a lot of young kids who are coming along well.”
Luxton earned his hat trick in the 48th minute, winning a one-on-one matchup with the Plano keeper and giving the Hubs a 7-1 advantage. The Reapers continued to battle, earning one goal back in the 63rd minute before Rochelle sealed its win with two goals from Orozco in the 71st and 72nd minutes. The Hubs will continue conference play against Sandwich on Wednesday.
War on 34
The Rochelle Hub varsity soccer team finished fourth in the Earlville War on 34 Championship tournament over the weekend. Rochelle faced Geneseo in the semifinals, falling 2-0 before suffering a 4-3 loss against LaSalle-Peru in the consolation finals to move to 1-2 on the season.
Junior Jarret Milan totaled 15 saves in the match against Geneseo. The Maple Leafs scored in the 22nd and 24th minutes while limiting the Rochelle offense to only two shots on Saturday. Senior Josue Orozco scored two goals in the loss against LaSalle-Peru, while junior Diego Cincire added one goal. Milan finished with three saves for the Hubs in the match.