By Michael Lewis
The Rochester Lancers recently inducted the first 20 members into their Wall of Fame at halftime of their Major Arena Soccer League game against the Baltimore Blast.
To commemorate the occasion, here are a dozen memorable indoor games the team has participated in over the last decade.
1. Do you believe in miracles? (March 8, 2015)
The Lancers certainly did against the Syracuse Silver Knights as they captured their first playoff series in their history. After Rochester rolled to a 20-7 home triumph in the opening game of the Major Arena Soccer League series, host Syracuse knotted things up with a 17-6 win in the second game. In the 15-minute Game 3 mini-game, the Silver Knights grabbed a 2-0 lead on a Nate Bordeau goal, but scored the winning goal, a three-pointer, off a fluky header by defender Yakiel Perez with seven minutes remaining. A Syracuse defender tried to clear the ball, but it hit the head of Perez and rolled into the net as goalkeeper Bryan O’Quinn couldn’t knock it out of harm’s way. Head coach Doug Miller said it was one of the strangest game-winning goals he had seen. “I told the guys we are destined for the MASL championship,” he said. “It’s not the way I anticipated it, but it was a show of resilience.”
2. Honoring the best (Jan. 27, 2012)
In the Lancers’ most emotional match, it didn’t matter if they had won or lost at the Blue Cross Arena that Sunday. A little more than a month after the horrific Christmas Eve at the Blue Cross Arena, the Lancers honored the bravest of Rochester, the West Webster Fire Department on First Responder Appreciation Day. A team record crowd of more than 10,000 fans attended the match. The Lancers wore commemorative black jerseys with the West Webster Fire Department logo that was auctioned off after the game. West Webster firefighter Jeff Hofstetter was the Lancers’ honorary captain as he was given a jersey with his name on it. About the game, Rochester rolled to a 15-0 halftime lead and recorded a 17-8 triumph over the Missouri Comets.
3. It’s Miller time, times six (Dec. 1, 2012)
During his incredible 2012-13 season in which he earned the MISL scoring title and MVP honors at the age of 43, Doug Miller reached another league (and team) standard by becoming a one-man wrecking crew, scoring six goals in a game, in a 24-17 triumph over the Missouri Comets. By halftime, Miller already had four goals, including three in the second quarter. He added two more scores in the third period to tie the MISL record held by Missouri’s Byron Alvarez as the Lancers moved over .500 for the first time in the team’s MISL history (3-2). Miller’s 12 points was one off Alvarez’s MISL record for points in a game. He also moved into the MISL scoring race lead with 29 points. Miller went on to become the first player in the modern MISL era to surpass 100 points. He finished with 102 behind a record 44 goals. He also tallied five game-winning scores.
3. The clincher (Feb. 23, 2012)
It didn’t get much more dramatic than this. Mauricio Salles scored a three-point shot six minutes into extratime to lift the Lancers to a 20-17 victory over the Wichita Wings and into the MISL playoffs as a first-year expansion team before 6,720. Rochester (10-13) had squandered a lead in the final minute of regulation. “I couldn’t be more excited,” Salles told the Democrat and Chronicle. “The indoor game is always hard, and this was a tough one. We gave up some goals, but we worked harder.”
4. The very first game (Nov. 4, 2011)
The Lancers rallied from an 8-2 first quarter deficit to grab a 15-12 edge at the end of the third period en route to a 16-15 loss to the Syracuse Silver Knights in their Major Indoor Soccer League debut at the Oncenter War Memorial Arena. Jeffrey Hughes connected with the game-winner with 39 seconds remaining in the game. Lubo Kocic recorded three goals and seven points. Mauricio Salles and Miller added goals for Rochester. “I’m extremely proud of the way the guys played,” head coach Bill Andracki told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “We fell behind early, but we battled back. I thought we were the better team tonight. We made a few mistakes that they capitalized on, but we’ll work on that.”
5. The home debut (Nov. 12, 2012)
In the Lancers’ second game of their MISL venture, they were whipped by the Missouri Comets, 13-4, before a crowd of 6,528 at the Blue Cross Arena at the Community War Memorial. Jeremy Ortiz and Salles, who scored off a bicycle kick, got on the scoresheet for the Lancers. Ryan Junge led Missouri (3-0) with five points and a long three-point goal. Reigning league MVP Bryon Alvarez contributed two assists.
6. There’s a first time for everything (Nov. 19, 2011)
The Lancers jumped out to a 13-point lead before holding to register their first win ever, a 22-13 result over the Syracuse Silver Knights before 5,928 at BCA. Andrew Hoxie and Salles finished with four points and one assist apiece. Rochester had goals from eight players. “We worked this week on getting out of the box fast,” Lancers head coach Bill Andracki told the D&C. “We made a lot of good runs and did well in the first half. We dropped a little in the second half, but that will get better as we get more disciplined.”
7. Dear Abby (Feb. 24, 2013)
Another 10K-plus crowd filled up the BCA that Sunday, as Rochester native and U.S. women’s legend Abby Wambach returned as celebrity captain for the match. Her presence certainly didn’t hurt as the Lancers continued their hunt for the MISL playoffs with a 9-8 victory over the Milwaukee Wave. Miller, the league leading goal-scorer, tallied the winning goal with five minutes and 51 seconds remaining in the match to defeat the two-time defending champion. “What’s the saying? Better late than never,” head coach Jim Hesch said.
8. Turning down the heat (Feb. 19, 2015)
The Lancers set a franchise record with 33 points as they cruised to a 33-5 home win over the Harrisburg Heat at the BCA. Joey Tavernese scored four goals while Salles added a hat-trick and three assists. Rochester swept the season series, 4-0.
9. Ending with an exclamation point (March 30, 2019)
The Lancers finished their return to MASL2 with a flourish as they took third place in the playoffs with an 8-7 triumph over the Las Vegas Knights in Ontario, Calif. Jeremy Ortiz connected with 39.3 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to snap a 7-7 deadlock. A day prior, Rochester dropped an 11-10 extratime decision to Cuervos of Juarez in the semifinals. After the match, the Lancers received the third-place trophy from M2 head Kevin Milliken, which was the first piece of hardware the team had earned since the original incarnation of the Lancers captured the 1970 North American Soccer League title.
10. Lowering the boom (March 21, 2019)
After dropping both regular season matches to the Chicago Mustangs, the Lancers overcame a 2-1 halftime deficit en route to a 4-3 comeback win at the Grand Sports Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill. Boomer Steigleman scored 3:19 into sudden-death overtime for the Lancers (9-4) against Chicago (10-3). Immediately after Steigleman’s game-winner, there was a confrontation on the field that apparently was started by angry and disappointed Mustangs side.
11. A memorable return and a great start (Jan. 4, 2019)
After a four-year hiatus from the indoor game, the Lancers could not have asked for a better start as they registered a 7-3 season-opening victory over the Detroit Waza Flo before a capacity crowd of 2,500 at the Dome Arena. Jake Schindler and Steigleman struck for two goals apiece.
12. So close, yet so far (March 11, 2015)
The Blue and Gold made the Blast (18-2) sweat before succumbing to a 6-4 defeat in the MASL Eastern Division final in Baltimore. The result was in contrast to Baltimore’s 25-23 goal-fest of a victory over Rochester that March 11 (the most points the Blast had allowed since 2010). Tony Donatelli tallied the game-winner on a power-play goal seven minutes into the third quarter as Vinny Dantas assisted. Mauricio Salles and Andrew Hoxie found the net a pair of two-point goals for the visitors. The Lancers (10-10), who finished third in the division during the regular season, fell to 0-18 against Baltimore all-time. No one realized it at the time, it was the last indoor game played by the Lancers until the 2018-19 MASL2 season and the last MASL game since the 2019-20 opener on Nov. 29, 2019.