It’s as simple as this:

The Rochester Lancers must defeat AFC Cleveland Friday night or they might kiss their hopes of reaching the National Premier Soccer League playoffs goodbye.

A point from a draw could not be enough to keep the team’s hopes afloat. A loss would translate the Lancers would need outside help.

The Rochester (5-3-2, 17 points) enters the 7:30 p.m. contest at Independence High School tied for second place with the Erie Commodores (5-1-2, 17) in the East Conference Division of the Midwest Conference, trailing the first-place Dayton Dynamo (5-3-3, 18).

The Lancers defeated fourth-place Cleveland (5-3-1, 16) the first time they met, 3-0, at home June 11. The Ohio-based team has a game in hand on the Lancers.

This is what makes things an intriguing dynamic:

* The top two teams in the division will qualify for the postseason.

* Since there are 12 games in the season, Erie has four matches remaining and three games in hand, including a season-ending game at the Lancers at Charles Schiano Field at Aquinas Institute Saturday, July 15 at 4 p.m. Cleveland has (5-3-1, 16) has two games in hand on the Lancers, while Dayton has only one match left.