Chad Kutscher has definitely enjoyed a great coaching career at Rochester, winning close to 550 matches in 21 years coaching both the boys and girls programs since he took over at the school located southeast of Springfield.
In two stints for a total of 12 years with the girls, he won a Class A title in 2008. Then after taking second in 2014, he led the Rockets to another Class A championship the next year before taking the Class AA title in 2016.
On the boys’ side, he owns a 330-168-24 record in 22 seasons. The highlight is three-straight trophies from 2006-2008, when the team finished third twice and fourth in Class A. In 2013, Kutscher led the program to a third place run.
In recognition of leading another team to the state finals, Kutscher was selected as the IHSSCA Soccer Person of the Year in Section 7.
This year, the 19-5-0 Rockets make their return to the IHSA Finals for the first time in nine years. They’ll face Crystal Lake South in the Class AA semifinals at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Hoffman Estates High School.
After opening the season with a 3-3-0 record against several larger schools, Rochester has been on a roll, winning 10 in a row from Sept. 2-28. Following a pair of subsequent losses, the Rockets won their last six matches by a composite score of 12-2.
Defense has definitely been the key for the Rockets, who have claimed four 1-0 victories in the postseason. Their other win came by a 2-1 score in the sectional semifinals.
They assured themselves of their fifth trophy by capturing 1-0 victory over Triad in Tuesday's Jacksonville Supersectional.
Junior forward/back Landon Kutscher scored the lone goal in the 27th minute following an assist from senior midfielder/back Brayden Trello. The Rockets’ 1-0 win denied the state's top-ranked Class AA team from earning another state finals trip, and gave Triad its lone loss against an Illinois opponent. Triad previously beat the Rockets 3-2 on Oct. 2 in Troy.
In the sectional tournament that they hosted, the Rockets won 2-1 over Mahomet-Seymour before defeating Champaign Central 1-0 in the championship match.
After allowing 13 goals in its first eight matches, Rochester has yielded just nine goals in its last 16 contests, recording 11 shutouts and giving up just one goal three other times.
In goal, sophomore Reid Loy has an 0.62 GAA in 21 matches, and junior Joel Brock owns an 0.50 GAA in 18 matches.
Kutscher leads the Rockets with 18 goals and also has seven assists. Other top goal scorers are junior forward Tucker Spraetz (8 goals, 3 assists); senior midfielder Major Gibson (6 goals, 5 assists); sophomore midfielder Brenden McArdle (6 goals, 8 assists); and Trello (6 goals, 5 assists). Senior midfielder/forward Andrew Combs has five assists.
Others on the team who've played in all 24 matches are senior forward Adan Nieves, senior defender Cohen Spengler, junior forward/midfielder Lach Sullivan and junior forward Cole Weiskopf.
Rochester players who earned IHSSCA recognition were All-Stater Spengler, All-Section selections Kutscher and Sullivan, All-Academic recipient senior midfielder/forward/back Curtis Roselle and Sportsmanship Award winner Trello.
Rockets team captains are Gibson, Nieves, Spengler and Trello. Assisting Kutscher are Nick Kieffer, who was Section 7's Assistant Coach of the Year, and Emma Hughes and Brent Stuckey.
"They (Triad) were the top team in the state for AA, and we definitely weren't ranked that high, so it was a great win. The boys were excited, and we're ready to move on now," Kutscher said. "The last time I had a team get there for the boys was the fall of 2013, the first year we played at Hoffman Estates.
"There was a while that I was telling people that we were kings of the third place game, so I'm hoping that's not the case this year. I can't say enough about the character of our kids, the determination and the effort. I'm very happy with how our boys responded and accepted that challenge on Tuesday. I hope that wasn't the crowning moment of the year.
“I like their never-say-die attitude and the fight in them. Defensively, we're a solid team. We've got a pretty senior-heavy defense and what we've really depended on all year has been our defense.”