Jeremy Ortiz was a member of the Lancers’ original indoor squad for the 2011-12 season. (Photo courtesy of the Lancers)
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Jeremy Ortiz has always been one intense competitor.
“I try to play every game like my last,” he said. “That’s always how I’ve always approached the game.”
Which is a big reason why Ortiz has become one of the most productive Rochester Lancers and one of the team’s most popular players over the years.
So, it should not be surprising that the veteran midfielder will be one of 20 individuals inducted into inaugural class of the Lancers’ Wall of Fame prior to the team’s game against the Baltimore Blast at the Dome Arena on Friday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m.
“I definitely feel honored and it’s a great feeling to have for the time that I have put in with the team and the group of guys that have been selected,” Ortiz said. “I’ve never been inducted into a Hall of Fame, a Wall of Fame, before so I’m humbled about it.”
What makes it extra cool is that Ortiz is a still vital member of the Lancers after joining the club for its first season of indoor soccer in 2011-12.
“I wasn’t expecting any sort of recognition for this year, with the way things are going obviously, the way the new team and the guys are learning the game,” he said. “But for playing close to nine to 10 years it’s definitely a nice little sort of recognition for playing so long. Someone comes along and sees what you’ve put into the game in and game out every day.”
Ortiz, who turns 34 on Jan. 27, has had many memories with the team, but one really has stood out. That happened in March 2015 when the Lancers won their first playoff series ever. They had won the opening game against the Syracuse Silver Knights, dropped the second, but captured a 15-minute mini-game, 3-2, on a three-point goal, to secure the Eastern Division semifinal series.
“That was a very monumental game for us, very emotional,” he said. “I thought that was a great game. I thought that was a culmination of four years of all the Lancer players coming together and learning the game and building up to that point.”
And this from a player who has scored the fastest goal in Lancers’ indoor history.
As a former teammate and current coach of Ortiz, Lancers head coach Doug Miller has valued the Philadelphia, pa. native.
“Being from Philadelphia, hard -osed, like a little pit bull,” he said. “That’s how he is today on the field, even when he’s competing against younger guys. Now, he’s moved more into a leadership role on the team.”
Oh, and soccer fans, don’t worry. The 5-7, 165-lb. Ortiz has no intentions of retiring, at least not just yet. Remember, he has quite a full plate these days as he commutes to Lancers games from Philly, where he is a stockbroker.
“I take it year by year right now, especially with the work situation and the travel,” he said. It does take a toll on you. Whenever I step onto the field, I block everything out and I’m focused on the game. That’s always how I’ve been from year to year. … I still think I have the fire and the passion to continue to play. We’ll just see how this season ends and we’ll go from there.”
Ortiz and the Lancers will face a busy weekend. Besides the Blast match, Rochester will host the St. Louis Ambush on Sunday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. the Dome Arena in Henrietta, N.Y.
Tickets are still available for both games and can be purchased at RLancers.com or at the Dome Arena box office on game day.