Pickens scores hat trick, Davis adds first goal in Rochester’s win over Culver
Brooks, Keranko also score as Zebras bounce back after loss to Bremen
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
CULVER –- The Rochester boys soccer team worked to help Kaleb Shaffer get a goal in Tuesday’s game against Culver.
Though Shaffer had six shots on goal in the second half, he wasn’t able to tally.
Still, he had more than enough help as the Zebras beat the host Cavaliers 6-0.
Zach Pickens needed fewer than 18 minutes of playing time to notch a hat trick, and he also added an assist for Rochester (6-7).
Pickens’ assist was a set-up for freshman Wyatt Davis, whose first career goal off Culver goalkeeper Landon Stevens’ hand made it 3-0 with 27:55 left in the half.
Pickens scored twice within the first eight minutes. Layne Backus and Mitchell Shafer had one assist each.
“It’s definitely a big factor, especially when you have somebody like Pickens, who is faster than usually everybody,” Rochester coach Elmer Roque said when asked about speed being a factor.
Culver coach Adam Llovet said Rochester’s speed allowed them to dominate possession. Sergio Villegas’ shot on goal that Rochester’s Parker Wallace saved in the second half was Culver’s only one.
“Honestly, their whole offensive line was quick,” Llovet said. “They were able to pick us apart and just run through whenever they wanted, and that was a huge factor, I think, in them being able to dominate offensively for sure.”
Jude Brooks and R.J. Keranko each added a goal in the second half. Brooks’ goal with 30:01 left off a Backus assist meant that the rest of the game was played with a running clock, per the IHSAA soccer mercy rule.
Keranko’s goal with 25:11 left came on a long 30-yarder that snuck over the keeper’s head and completed the scoring.
Rochester was coming off a 7-0 loss to Class 2A, No. 17 Bremen Saturday. Despite the lopsided score, Roque praised the team.
“We probably played the best game we’ve played all season against Bremen,” Roque said. “I mean, we did make a lot of mistakes in back not clearing the ball, so that’s something we definitely learned from, and we’re trying to work on is not making those mistakes. But overall, we moved the ball the best we’ve moved it all year. We were keeping up with them. Just those silly mistakes… That’s what a good team will do to beat you.”
But alas, they could not help Shaffer score a goal.
“Oh my gosh,” a smiling Roque said. “Out of 100 percent, we were probably 200. We were trying. He got one, but he was offsides though. But we’ll get him one. … It would mean so much. Everybody on the team is on board. We want him to have one goal in his high school career.”
Culver, the defending Hoosier North champs, lists 13 players on their roster. Rochester has 20 players. The difference was not only in numbers but also in experience, according to Llovet.
“We’ve got roughly five guys who have never played a sport before,” Llovet said. “We’re playing them in a varsity sport and giving them varsity minutes. And we have no subs. We’re learning a lot, and it’s a lot of growing for us. But sometimes, you’ve got to take it on the chin because that’s part of the growth process.”