By Michael Lewis
The Rochester Lancers 2 can take a big step toward qualifying for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as it hosts World Class Premier Elite in a third-round qualifying match at Roberts Wesleyan College in North Chili Sunday at 1 p.m.
Formerly the Rochester River Dogz, the Lancers 2 are aiming to reach the spring competition for the second consecutive year.
“We don’t necessarily worry about other teams,” Lancers 2 head coach Doug Miller told the Soccer is a Kick in the Grass radio show Monday night. “We worry about things in the process that we can control. Preparing for the game that making sure our game plan is followed through to a T. And then you see who’s the better team on that day. We don’t control outcomes, we only control processes.
“Last year we had a good run to qualify for the Open Cup and then lost on penalty kicks in the first round.”
In the 2018 opening round, the River Dogz were eliminated by Erie Commodores FC in the opening round via a shootout. Erie recorded a 5-4 penalty kick win after playing to a 1-1 draw.
This season’s squad overcame the Tartan Devils Avalon (Pa.) in a second-round match in penalty kicks, 4-3, after playing to a scoreless home draw at Roberts Wesleyan Oct. 21.
Miller was optimistic the Lancers would reach the Open Cup.
“The quality of players we have in the community can go and compete when you’re organized and fighting for a shared goal,” he said.
In the first round, amateur clubs, for the most part compete, and dream about playing some of the giants of the American soccer world.
“The U.S. Open Cup stands for just that,” Miller said. “Everybody can go and compete in this game. I look at the run that we’ve had with the [Rochester] Rhinos in the mid-nineties to the late nineties and winning it in Columbus. I think this is something that the guys have an opportunity to do. We have to win on Sunday, so we actually compete for the Open Cup. i think when we’re there we’ll be able to get organized and maybe have a better impact than we had last year.”
In 1999, Miller played a vital role in the Rhinos’ run to the Open Cup title. In fact, the team is the league non-Major League Soccer side to have won the competition.
The available number of berths into the first round of the 2019 Open Cup will be determined by the Open Cup Committee at a later date. If a fourth qualifying round is needed, it will be scheduled for March 9-10 or April 6-7.