Pickens’ hat trick helps Roque earn first coaching win
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
FULTON –- Zach Pickens scored three goals – the first came just 13 seconds into the game – and Layne Backus scored on a penalty kick to lead the Rochester boys soccer team to a 4-1 win over host Caston on Aug. 19.
The win was the first in the coaching career for Rochester’s Elmer Roque and improved the Zebras’ record to 1-1.
Jonathan Pacheco scored for Caston, who fell to 1-1. The Comets were coming off a 4-2 win over Tippecanoe Valley two days earlier in which they rallied from a 2-0 deficit.
This time, they trailed almost immediately from the opening kickoff.
Pickens intercepted a back pass and dribbled in from the right flank and beat Caston goalkeeper Bailey Zimpleman to the far post.
Pickens scored again with 12:18 left in the half, outrunning Caston defenders to a loose ball and beating Zimpleman again just inside the far post to make it 2-0.
Rochester extended their lead to 3-0 with 33:23 left when Pickens completed his hat trick one-versus-one on Zimpleman.
Pacheco scored an unassisted goal with 25:55 left to cut the deficit to 3-1, but Backus completed the scoring on his penalty kick with 10:26 left. It was Backus’ second straight game with a penalty kick goal.
Rochester adjusted their formation from their 6-2 loss to North White two days earlier. Backus and fellow senior Adam Maroney switched roles.
“I think the main adjustment that we made was switching Layne Backus from center back to center mid and moving Adam, who was at center mid top center back,” Roque said. “Layne’s a little better on the ball and a little more confident, but on D, he lacks a little focus – he’s got to worry about too many things at once – and Adam’s really good at focusing on that but struggled with confidence on the ball.”
Roque said the Rochester bus arrived a little late to the Comet Crater and said the team didn’t have much time to warm up. He didn’t envision them scoring right away.
“I think unfortunately, we weren’t ready,” Caston coach Narciso Sanchez said of Pickens’ early goal. “They maybe caught us on our back foot. Guy rushed in and got a good touch on the ball, and unfortunately, it went behind the back line for a goal.”
Sanchez said Caston didn’t have as much possession as he would have liked.
“For the most part, I felt like the pressure from Rochester was pretty good,” Sanchez said. “And the kids were doing their best to keep on the ball, but I think their first instinct today was to get rid of it before losing it.”
Roque was hired in June and said only four players showed up to his first offseason practice. Of the players who showed up for the first official practice on Aug. 2, Roque said 10 of them were players he had never seen before.
“I did not envision us getting 20 guys,” Roque said. “I thought the whole time we would have 14 guys. Now we have 20, and I’m like, ‘Woo!’”
Watch the match here: