Shafer, Pickens score to lead RHS past Wabash
Frosh keeper Wallace notches shutout in varsity debut
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
WABASH — Wade Shafer and Zach Pickens scored goals, and freshman goalkeeper Parker Wallace notched a shutout in his varsity debut as the Rochester boys soccer team handled Wabash 3-0 in their season opener at the Morrett Sports Complex Saturday.
Wabash (2-6 overall, 1-2 Three Rivers Conference) had scored 16 goals in their previous seven games, but the RHS defense blanked them on their hard, dusty home turf.
As if there wasn’t enough uncertainty due to the coronavirus outbreak causing the start of practice to be delayed by three weeks, RHS features seven freshmen on their varsity roster. Meanwhile, just four juniors and seniors suited up. Shafer was the lone senior to see the field.
“We’ve got a really, really young team,” RHS coach Trevor Brown said. “I only had a total of combined four juniors and seniors playing today. So it’s basically all freshmen and sophomores. And we’ve worked really hard on our formation offensively and defensively. So we kinda threw in different looks than we usually do at it today.”
The Zebras tried to keep the ball out of the air as part of their strategy.
“We did a good job trying to find feet and looking for through balls,” Brown said. “A tough field to play on for anybody. It’s a little rough, a little bumpy. But we did our best to play to feet, and the kids executed pretty well.”
RHS led 2-0 at halftime. The first goal came on a left-footed finish from Shafer as he arced a shot over the outstretched arm of Wabash goalkeeper Alex Dinkins.
“Wade’s first goal was a great goal, and after that, the momentum stayed with us,” Brown said.
The second goal was an own goal. Shafer took a corner kick from the left - one of six RHS had in the first half - and placed it high in the direction of Layne Backus near the goal. Both Backus and a Wabash defender went up for it, but it deflected off the Wabash’s defender’s head and into the net.
Pickens scored on a penalty kick in the second half after a hand ball call on Wabash in the box.
“They had a little flurry at the end, and Parker Wallace, freshman goalie, just had a couple tremendous saves at the end of the game.”
Brown said Wallace has a “short memory,” a good trait for a goalkeeper. In other words, he doesn't dwell on any mistakes.
“He’s a good athlete,” Brown said. “He’s got good size. He’s got good instincts. He’s still raw. He’s played his seventh-grade year as goalie. He didn’t have an eighth-grade year because of COVID. For his first varsity match, he’s not afraid.”
This has been an unusual preseason when combining both the uncertainties that the virus presents and the job of incorporating the newcomers to go with veterans like Shafer, Pickens, Backus and defender Adam Maroney.
“Obviously, we’re used to having a preseason,” Brown said. “We’re used to having two-a-days. We’re used to getting all of our fitness in, and you get to the first game and everybody’s ready to roll. And we’ve had literally 10 days of practice. To get six or seven new guys integrated into a system, and we only had two subs available today, and one of them got hurt in the first half, so we only had one sub.
“So we did some of the normal stuff with fitness and things, but we spent a lot more time working on formations, rotations and responsibilities than I normally would in the first two weeks,” Brown said.