By Michael Lewis
The Rochester River Dogz won’t be playing Tartan Devils Oak Avalon in the second local qualifying round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Sunday as originally announced.
No, the team hasn’t folded. It has changed its name.
Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the Rochester Lancers 2.
That’s right the Lancers 2 will take on the Pennsylvania side at Roberts Wesleyan College in a Mid-Atlantic game in Rochester, N.Y. at 3 p.m. for a chance to reach the third qualifying round the weekend of Nov. 18-19.
Lancers patriach Soccer Sam Fantauzzo said Monday night the organization decided to change the name of the River Dogz to get the team under one umbrella, for playing and marketing purposes.
Marc Mandell, the Lancers general manager, and Nick Mojsovski, the assistant GM, own the River Dogz.
“Mark Mandell and Nick have done an amazing job with the River Dogz,” Fantauzzo said on the radio show, Soccer is a Kick in the Grass. “We’re just trying to share sponsors to make the numbers work. I think sometimes there’s confusion.”
Miller, the head coach of the Lancers’ men side in the National Premier Soccer League, also had directed the RiverDogz.
“Doug kind of being there to coach and also scout players at the same time, we figured out a way,” Fantauzzo said. “It’s hard enough to get your name out there. When you’re trying to promote two different brands it’s even more confusing. So we’re going with one brand, indoor, outdoor, Lady Lancers.”
The Lancers 2 will play in the Rochester District Soccer League “to support the growth of the Lancers,” Fantauzzo said. “It’s kind like our farm team and Nick and Mark are doing a great job developing that.”
So, that means there will be the Lancers (NPSL), Lancers 2 (RDSL), the indoor Lancers (Major Arena Soccer League 2), Lady Lancers (United Women’s Soccer) and the Lancers youth teams.
The organization is also seeking a women’s team to be a Lady Lancers 2 in a local league, Fantauzzo said.
“So we have a feeder system and so we don’t have to have tryouts every year,” he said. “I’m not saying tryouts are a waste of time but sometimes you’re looking at 40-50 players and it’s tough to see anybody. I would rather see them if they’re showing up on time if they are committed every game. I think it would be easier to have a Lancers 2 men and a Lady Lancers 2 to develop for our first team.”
Miller will coach the Lancers 2 during their Open Cup run, Fantauzzo said, and assistant coach Adam Schwartz, would probably guide the team during the RDSL season, “so they can keep an eye on players to see who’s developing quicker and better and call them up if needed.”
Fantauzzo told co-hosts Andrew Battisti and Joe Sirianni that he was encouraged by the reaction of Miller changing his youth program’s name to the Lancers.
“You’ll be surprised how many young kids now are so proud to wear the Lancers colors, the Lancers logo,” he said. “I’ve seen them on people’s cars. They tell me their kids tell me their kids play for the Lancers. That was kind of the intent of bringing back the Lancers in 2011, to keep the history alive, to keep the brand alive.
“Now we have these young kids who some day want to play for the Lady Lancers, the Lancers 2 and eventually the Lancers 1. Now with the indoor, the sky’s the limit. We’re doing our best to keep the alive.”
Fantauzzo added that what transpired in the past with the Rochester Rhinos and the original Lancers cannot be duplicated.
“I know for many fans it’s never going to like it was at Frontier Field, it’s never going to be like it was at Holleder Stadium,” he said. “You’ve got to be realistic. And we’re going to be content. Whoever shows up, we’re going to put on a show.”