ROCHELLE — The Rochelle Hub varsity soccer team dealt with injuries to key players throughout the 2021 season. After finishing 9-12 overall and suffering their first losing season since 2015, head coach Brad Male and the Hubs will look to bounce back next fall.
Rochelle took fourth place in the Interstate 8 Conference this season after placing third during the shortened spring season earlier this year. The Hubs will lose a few talented seniors including forward Josue Orozco, who finished with a team-leading 24 goals and four assists.
Rochelle will return several starters on offense, however, including sophomore midfielder Eli Luxton (18 goals, two assists), freshman forward Alberto Casillas (15 goals, four assists), sophomore forward Diego Salazar (three goals, three assists) and junior forward Jared Montano (two goals, one assist). The Hubs scored 68 goals and totaled 25 assists this season.
“It’s always nice to see some new faces and I was pleased with how we played overall,” Male said. “We had some rough matches this season and we had some injuries throughout the season. It’s always tough to lose one of our top scorers, but we know we have some younger players who can pick up where they left off. We have some versatile players coming back who contributed a lot to our offense and we’re hoping they can step up for us next year.”
The Hubs will lose two senior starters on defense including Caleb Ritter and two-year captain Bryce Whitehead. Junior Jarett Milan, who finished with 90 saves in net for Rochelle, headlines the varsity team’s eligible returning players next year. Junior Jace Whitehead (one goal, four assists) will be another key player eligible to return in the midfield, while junior Christian Harding and sophomore Nathan Sergeant each finished this season as starting defenders.
“We had a lot of defenders step up and I think we should be solid back there next year,” Male said. “It’s not easy losing someone like Bryce, but we have players coming back who will fill some spots for us. The biggest key for us is continuing to work together as a team. We had some games this year where we looked like individuals and not necessarily a team.”