skip navigation

Game story: Rochelle Zell falls to Cristo Rey’s goal explosion

By Bobby Narang, 08/29/23, 6:30PM CDT


After 1-1 1st half, Cristeros score 7 unanswered goals

DEERFIELD – The early signs pointed toward a memorable peformance for Rochelle Zell on Monday afternoon.

The Tigers were motivated after the sting of their first loss of the season, a  4-2 Chicago Prep Conference home loss to Ida Crown on Sunday, and with the challenge of hosting ever-tough Cristo Rey.

Just 19 seconds into the match, Rochelle Zell star forward Jesse Shapira fired a shot from distance that sailed over the crossbar, prompting a teammate to yell “Good idea Jesse.”

Less than 19 minutes later, Shapira, a four-year varsity player, took advantage of a miscue by Cristo Rey’s keeper to score the first goal of the match on a beautifully placed, curving shot.

But after tying the game, the Cristeros, who captured the Chicago Prep Conference title last season with an 8-0-1 mark, turned the tide in the second half. The visitors scored seven goals to post an 8-1 victory over the Tigers.

Despite the seven-goal defeat, the final outcome wasn’t a true indicator of the Tigers’ solid play. At halftime, the Tigers (1-2-0, 0-2-0) were locked in a 1-1 tie. Freshman goalie Jonah Frank, who finished with nine saves, made several outstanding diving stops.

“(Jonah) played great,” Rochelle Zell coach David Martinez said. “When you play a team as good as Cristo Rey, and they have possession most of the game, they are going to get shots. More shots equals more goals. He did a great job stepping up, but toward the end when our defenders got tired, Cristo Rey had more open shots in the middle, which is not what we want. Jonah did a great job stopping what he could.

“After Sunday’s game, which we lost after being up 2-0, we watched some film, and they came out today ready to go. But it’s tough when you play a quality team like Cristo Rey, and you don’t have the legs to keep up. We had a bunch of guys step up from the bench, which is awesome. Credit to the boys.

"The future is bright and the rest of the season is bright. We just have to play the full 80 minutes. We were playing great, except those four minutes Cristo Rey found the goal (times). These guys need a confidence boost. The first half gave it to them, so hopefully a full game will solidify how we feel.”

Shapira, who has two goals on the season, opened the scoring with a smart move when he noticed Cristo Rey goalie Leandro Triano was outside the penalty area. Shapira, an active player with excellent touch, took a few hard steps toward Triano, who soft-tapped the ball right to Shapira.

From there, Shapira took a dribble before launching a curving shot from 22 yards into the empty net for a 1-0 edge at the 21:20 mark.

“I know they play back, so it’s my chance to give it my all. They made a mistake on that, and I was able to capitalize,” Shapira said. “I don’t really remember aiming it, but I saw the open shot and made it. It was great to go up early.”

Cristo Rey (2-0-1, 1-0-0) managed to tie the score right before halftime on a Jesus Martinez goal with 80 seconds left before the break. Still, the Tigers exited intermission with their heads up and ready to compete for a win.

After the Cristeros scored two goals in the first seven minutes of the second half for a 3-1 lead, the Tigers found themselves in a prime position to get back in the game. In the 58th minute, Shapira lined up for a penalty kick, but his attempt was saved by a diving Triano.

“That’s the second missed PK for me this year, so I was little annoyed,” Shapira said. “It’s the same thing. I went bottom right, which I always do. They made a good save. I was frustrated, because I knew that could’ve been a big momentum shifter. But I know I’ll get the next one.”

The Cristeros pulled away by taking advantage of the young and tired Tigers, scoring five goals in the final 12:09, including three in the last 3:03 of the game.

“I have a lot of respect for Rochelle Zell, because they always hustle and never give up,” Cristo Rey coach Manuel Chavez said. “Rochelle Zell is always known to fight. We were pretty composed and moved the ball around quite a bit side to side and filtered the ball through the middle. That made a big difference.

“Rochelle Zell pressured us. We made an early mistake. They took advantage, but the guys stayed composed.”

Cristo Rey senior midfielder Juan Espinosa-Victoria scored a consecutive hat-trick in minutes 69-78 to pad the lead to 7-1.

“These last 15 minutes we all connected the ball well,” Espinosa-Victoria said. “I told my teammates to keep their head up after we fell (behind). We have some big games coming up, so we’re excited for the rest of the season.”

Teammate Giovanni Guzman, a defender, said the backline played solid in the victory.

“As soon as we went down 1-0, we had to maintain our cool and keep playing hard,” Guzman said. “This win feels good. We worked hard.”

Rochelle Zell junior defender Ari Schwab said Monday’s defeat is a motivating tool for the Tigers.

“I’m really proud of how we held them in the first half and part of the second half,” he said. “To me, it’s amazing what coach Martinez can do for us, just how we’ve all developed. I’m proud of how we played from the start. When we had the ball and controlled it on offense, we had good quality attempts on goal. Three of their goals came in the last 4 minutes, so that showed how we stayed together on defense, especially for the kids who were coming off the bench for the first time. It’s rough, but I think we will have a good season ahead of us.”

Looking ahead, Shapira said he’s excited to be a senior leader and mentor for the younger players in the program.

“It’s definitely a different role,” Shapira said. “I’m playing the same position but now younger people are looking up to me, and it’s my responsibility to be the voice of the team and keep people energized and positive. I feel like I’ve always been a leader, but now I have the title.”

Besides his leadership skills, Shapira said he’s been focusing on improving other aspects of his game.

“I’ve been working on my shot a lot,” Shapira said. “I’ve been trying to be more intentional, curving it left or right, and being more aware of what’s a good shot. I think it will definitely show up this season. I want to win a regional. We haven’t won one since I’ve been here.”

Starting lineups

Cristo Rey
GK: Leandro Triano
D: Jesus Martinez
D: David Gomez-Samano
D: Daniel Garcia
D: Joel Valdez
MF: Salvador Medrano
MF: Liam Tapia
MF: Rogelio Barrios-Avila
MF: Jovani Guzman
F: Jefferson Flores
F: Marcelo Munez

Rochelle Zell
GK: Jonah Frank
D: Tal Nochimowski
D: Asher Dayan
D: Ari Schwab
D: Mendel Lifchitz
MF: Nitai Gorlin
MF: Ronen Ousley
MF: Ben Rosenfeld
MF: Simon Levitan
F: Jesse Shapira
F: Jack Shapiro

Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Juan Espinosa-Victoria, sr., MF, Cristo Rey

Scoring summary

First half
Rochelle Zell: Shapira (unassisted), 19’
CR: J. Martinez (Juarez), 39’

Second half
CR: Flores (penalty kick), 44’
CR: Barrios-Avila (Gomez-Samano), 47’
CR: Sastoque (Martinez), 68’
CR: Espinosa-Victoria (Gomez), 69’
CR: Espinosa-Victoria (unassisted), 77’
CR: Espinosa-Victoria (Munoz), 78’
CR: Garcia (unassisted), 80’