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Morris defense tightens up in win over Hubs

Morris junior forward Ricardo Del Toro had three assists during Tuesday's Northern Illinois Big 12 East opener for the Redskins in a 3-0 win over the Hubs.
Morris junior forward Ricardo Del Toro had three assists during Tuesday's Northern Illinois Big 12 East opener for the Redskins in a 3-0 win over the Hubs.

Eight goals.

The last time Morris and Rochelle met earlier this fall, the Redskins put up a snowman against the Hubs. It was also the same number of goals Morris scored against Wilmington Monday night.

So when the official Northern Illinois Big 12 East schedule opened Tuesday in Morris, it was a little unusual neither the Redskins or the Hubs had scored a legitimate goal through the first 39 minutes.

Rochelle scored an own-goal in the fourth minute to open the game but then it stayed that way well into the 40th minute.

“I dribbled it down the line and saw Chava (Villanueva) call for the ball,” Del Toro said of the own-goal. “The defender was hurrying back and he popped it in.”

Morris would go on to win the game 3-0 to continue their unbeaten streak.

Considering the last time Morris and Rochelle met for the Earlville Tournament championship, when 13 combined goals were scored (the Redskins won 8-5), it was surprising to see so little offense Tuesday.

“Rochelle’s coach [Keith Lamb] put his fastest player in the back and he also put a sweeper in the back,” Morris coach David Valdivia said. “The last time we played them, he tried playing a four-flat with a push, and when you do that against us, we’re going to beat you every time. But adding that sweeper gave them a little more cushion.”

Morris finally scored without any help from the Hubs defense when Villanueva made it 2-0 off an assist from Del Toro right before halftime.

“I don’t know, we played differently today,” Del Toro said of the difference between the two matches. “I think we came in thinking we were going to kill them, that we’d roll over them, but they played hard.”

He also said keeper Cole Dickinson played well, along with mentioning that Morris may have had tired legs after just having played Wilmington on Monday.

“Their goalie was pretty good. He blocked a bunch of shots, especially against Nestor [Rodriguez],” Del Toro said.

Morris put up the final goal after the start of the second half when Luke Rodriguez scored off an assist from Del Toro. That goal came in the 48th minute.

“I had that one up in the corner, crossed it to him on the far post and I think he headed it in,” Del Toro said.

The remaining excitement was seeing if Morris could maintain the shutout. With about 18:40 left in the game, Redskins keeper Brian Vasquez came out to play the ball, but it got loose in the crease and the Hubs came crashing. That’s when Jose Salinas managed to save a goal in the open net.

“Winning the game and not let them scoring says a lot about us,” Salinas said. “I saw that going in and my first instinct was to get it out. I saw [Vasquez] get a hand on it and it go right through him. It was going in, so I got it out of the way.”

In addition to scoring 18 goals in the last three matches, the Redskins defense has just given up one in front of Vasquez during that time.

“The defense has been playing really good,” Valdivia said.

Morris is now 7-0-1 on the season and heads to Kaneland on Thursday.

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