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BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

Zach Pickens scored three goals and Wade Shafer tallied twice to lead the Rochester boys soccer team to a 5-0 win over visiting Culver at the Brent Blacketor Memorial Sports Complex Tuesday.

Pickens, a junior, set a new RHS single-season scoring record in the process. Pickens now has 28 goals. Will Thonn had 27 goals in 2018.

Shafer, Kaden Heishman and Parker Wallace all had assists. Heishman and Wallace are both freshmen.

RHS improved to 9-4. The win was their second straight shutout. They beat Lakeland Christian, a top 20 team in Class 1A, 1-0 on Saturday in Winona Lake.

Wallace had nine saves in goal.

Wallace has three shutouts on the season. RHS coach Trevor Brown was quick to compliment not only Wallace but the defenders in front of them. That group includes Adam Maroney, Layne Backus, Ethan Medina, Aidan Smith and R.J. Keranko.

“Parker has really come a long way,” RHS coach Trevor Brown said. “He had that clean sheet that first game of the season (a 3-0 win over Wabash on Sept. 5). He’s a freshman, and he made a couple of really good saves tonight. But the defense is doing a better job of limiting how many shots we’re giving up. And our defense has changed quite a bit. We’ve had some rotation back there, and I think we’ve finally found a good core group in the last three or four games that are starting to really play well together.”

Culver, who was coming off a shootout win over Winamac on Monday and who has already clinched the Hoosier North title, fell to 6-3-1.

“I think it was huge, honestly,” Culver first-year coach Adam Llovet said when asked if fatigue was a factor. “These guys gave it their all last night. It’s tough to go back-to-back for sure, especially against an aggressive and fast team like Rochester.”

Pickens is known especially for his speed.

“He was very tough,” Llovet said. “Both him and 99 (Shafer) were tough to mark. Those guys work very well together as a team.”

Culver went winless last season but have turned around their fortunes this season, even despite the tragic death of a student.

“That was hard for us to come back from, but we’ve worked really hard and have come together and made really big strides as just being a team and a family,” Llovet said. “That’s been really big for us.”

Rochester’s Zach Pickens set a school record with 28 goals in a season in the Zebras’ 5-0 win over Culver at the Brent Blacketor Memorial Sports Complex Tuesday. Pickens had three goals for the game. Pickens ranks No. 5 in the state in goals, according to MaxPreps.com. Teammate Wade Shafer ranks No. 1 in the state in assists.



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