Branko Segota scored the last goal for the original incarnation for the Lancers in 1980. (Deborah M. Bernstein Photo)
By Michael Lewis
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Win, lose or draw, just about everything the Rochester Lancers men accomplish Sunday against their inaugural match in the National Premier Soccer League Sunday at 4 p.m. will be a first, a first since the last time the Lancers played their final game of the 1980 North American Soccer League season.
While there was a major owners battle throughout the year (Rochester faction vs. New York faction) no one realized it was going to be the final game for that incarnation of the Lancers.
So, here’s a list of some the lasts in Lancers’ history:
No one realized it at the time, but it was a 5-0 loss to the Cosmos at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Aug. 25, 1980, before a crowd of 40,383.
It was no contest as the home side hit the woodwork an amazing five times. Giorgio Chinaglia started the assault with his 32nd goal of the season at 20:53.
“We could have had a million and one goals,” Cosmos sweeper Franz Beckenbauer was quoted in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
The Cosmos clinched the first seed of the NASL playoffs, which they went on to win. Roberto Cabanas led the way with two goals and Rick Davis and J.C. Romero added one apiece. Midfielders Johan Neeskens and Vladislav Bogicevic assisted on three goals apiece.
“We really could have been embarrassed here tonight,” said Lancers right wing Pat Ercoli, who is now the general manager of the Rochester Rhinos. “As it was, we didn’t do too badly. The Cosmos are a great team, a collection of superstars. We should be glad it wasn’t any worse.”
A interesting aside: Lancers assistant public relations director Vinnie Dinolfo burned a Cosmos pennant in the press box.
Last home game
That was a 2-0 loss to the lowly Atlanta Chiefs (7-24) at Holleder Stadium Aug. 23, 1980. David Byrne and Keith Furphy scored goals and Lou Cioffi recorded the shutout.
“We played bad,” Lancers midfielder Gene Strenicer said. “I think we outplayed them, but they played smart soccer. You can’t win games without scoring.”
That was scored by Branko Segota in a 3-2 defeat at the Tulsa Roughnecks Aug. 17, 1980. Segota tallied his 11th goal of the season off a 20-yard shot at 49:15. Defender Laszlo Harsanyi assisted on the goal (which also would be the last assists), which tied the gameat 2-2 at Skelly Stadium. The loss eliminated the Lancers from the playoff race.
A 2-1 victory at the Philadelphia Fury at Veteran’s Stadium Aug. 13. Striker Mike Stojanovic snapped a 1-1 deadlock with 2:35 remaining in the match past goalkeeper John Rigby.
Pat Ercoli had given Rochester a 1-0 lead off a John Nusum steal at 22:36 before Dave MacWilliams equalized at 44:20. Goalkeeper Enzo DiPede made eight saves.
“We didn’t do anything special” Lancers head coach Alex Perolli said. “Was tis a good game? No. With all due respect you don’t have a team here [in Philadelphia]. What could poor Eddie [Firmani, Fury coach] do with this team. We beat a team that didn’t play.”
The Fury was rumored to be moving to Montreal in 1981, which turned out to be true.
Last home goal
That was scored by midfielder Val Tuksa in a 3-1 setback to the Los Angeles Aztecs Aug. 7, 1980. Tuksa tallied off a Pablo Centrone feed at 82:26. Ilija Ivkovic also received an assist on that goal.
Last home win
That occurred in a 3-1 triumph over the San Diego Sockers July 30, 1980. Mike Stojanovic scored twice and Gene Strenicer once for the home side. Sockers coach Ron Newman called the Lancers (11-14) “the best team we’ve played on this road trip.”
Last regular-season game
A 25-23 loss to the Baltimore Blast in a Major Arena Soccer League encounter at the War Memorial Sunday, March 1, 2015. Lucas Roque tallied five times for the visitors.
Last regular-season win
A 9-7 triumph over the Syracuse Silver Knights in Syracuse, N.Y. Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. Four players scored for Rochester — Yaikel Perez, Jeremy Ortiz, Andrew Hoxie and Salles.
Last regular-season home victory
A 33-5 rout of the Harrisburg Heat the War Memorial Feb. 19.
Last regular-season home goal
By Joey Tavernese, a two-point goal off a Mauricio Salles assist, at 4:04 of the fourth period in a 25-23 loss to the Blast March 1, 2015.
Last playoff game
A 6-4 defeat to the host Blast Wednesday, March 11 in the Eastern Conference semifinals, a one-game playoff. Tony Donatelli tallied the go-ahead goal to snap a 4-4 deadlock with 8:06 left in the third period. With 2:17 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Lancers called a timeout and brought in Ortiz as an extra attacker, replacing the goalkeeper. Rochester had several opportunities to equalize, including a point-blank shot in the waning seconds that went high over the goal.
Last playoff win
A 3-2 win in a mini-game over the host Silver Knights Sunday, March 8. The Lancers won the first game of the series, 20-7 at home March 5, but dropped the second encounter March 8, 16-7, forcing the mini-game. Yakiel Perez scored a three-point goal that Syracuse.com writer Lindsay Kramer called “bizarre.”
Nate Bourdeau gave the Silver Knights a 2-0 edge 1:34 into the mini-game. But the that encounter turned at 8:40.
This is how Kramer described the goal:
Defender Darren Toby tried to play the ball of his zone along the left side while Syracuse goalie Bryan O’Quinn wandered outside his crease to create opportunity for an outlet pass there, but he was covered.
Toby, a good 40 feet away from his net, fired a hard shot that bounced off the head of Perez directly in front of him. The ball looped into the air toward the Syracuse net while O’Quinn sprinted back. The goalie lunged for the ball and swatted it out of the air near the goal line, but the ball was ruled to have crossed it for a score.
O’Quinn and Tanner argued the ruling, but it stood for a 3-2 Lancers lead. Syracuse pressured for the rest of the game but couldn’t put any more points on the board.