In one of the most innovative and unique announcements in sports, the Rochester Lancers Sunday unveiled the 21 players who have signed with the team for the 2020-21 Major Arena Soccer League season.
The players were introduced during 50 commercial spots on Rochester TV stations during and after NFL games.
“It’s a testament to the culture that Sam and I created,” Lancers head coach Doug Miller said, referring to team owner Salvatore “SoccerSam” Fantauzzo. “These guys want to stay in Rochester. They work here, live here. They get to play with the Lancers. So, it’s really nice to know that we have so many players who have played two years ago or last year with the team that want to come back.
“They saw strides of improvement, ending on a high, beating Kansas City. I think that’s what it’s going to take for us to take another step forward, to keep the core group, sprinkle in some other players and continue the journey. I think there was a lot of joy in the journey last year and we’ll continue that in the years to come.”
The Lancers announced the core of their roster on Sunday, Sept. 13, the 50th anniversary of the team winning the 1970 North American Soccer League championship. In honor of that team’s achievement, the Lancers will wear replica jerseys of that squad during the MASL season. They also will wear 1981 Rochester Flash and 1996 Rochester Rhinos jerseys during the season. The game-worn jerseys will be auctioned off to raise money and awareness for Rochester based charities.
The biggest signing of Sunday was the return of popular and MASL all-star midfielder Jake Schindler, who played with Utica City FC last season. Schindler, who last played with Rochester during the 2018-19 MASL campaign, has been a key performer for whatever team he has played.
“He brings stability on the field,” Miller said. “Jake can play in the back, he can play as a second forward, he can play as a target.”
The entire list of the 21 players who are coming back to the team:
Marcelo Moreira – The Brazilian-born netminder has brought experience to the team while mentoring the younger keepers. He is also goalkeeper coach along with Marc “American Dream” Sotile.
Brian Wilkin – A graduate of Hilton High School and Nazareth College. Nicknamed “Flying Brian” Wilkin, he made several key saves to keep the Lancers in games last year.
John Ciavaglia – The Rush-Henrietta High School and All-Greater Rochester standout had a promising season cut short when the Roberts Wesleyan College starter injured his shoulder early on and missed last season.
Tim Crawford – A Lancers indoor Wall of Famer, Crawford has played for the team since 2011. A two-time All-Greater Rochester selection while attending Webster Thomas H.S. before he became a regular at Hartwick College. He also performed for the Syracuse Silver Knights.
Jeremy Loncao – A Brighton H.S. standout, he went on to star at Monroe Community College and Brockport State, helping the Lancers during their 2019 playoff run.
Jake Reed – A native of Newton, N.J., Reed was a regular at Buffalo State before training with the Syracuse Silver Knights for a season before joining Rochester.
Anthony Rozzano, a co-captain, grew by leaps and bounds as a player and a leader last season. (Photo courtesy of the Lancers)
Anthony Rozzano – A co-captain of last year’s squad, the All-Greater Rochester choice from Webster Schroeder H.S. was the Lancers’ leading scorer leading goal-scorer (9 goals, 10 assists, 19 points) last year.
Jake Schindler – After playing last season for Utica City FC, Schindler, a West Irondequoit H.S. graduate, has returned to lead Rochester again as a co-captain. He has played an integral role with the team, indoors and outdoors, since the club returned in 2011.
Jake Schindler will wear the Lancers’ blue and gold once again. (Photo courtesy of the Lancers)
Zikret Osmic – A former player of FC RiverDogz, which morphed into the Lancers, Osmic scored once in seven games and is hoping to get more playing time this season.
Frankie Ciliberto – The son of former Rochester Flash player Frank Ciliberto, the Churchville-Chili H.S. star and All-Greater Rochester pick has made a name for himself with his all-around play.
Matt D’Amico – He had the honor of scoring the Lancers’ first goal last season in their return to the great indoors. He finished with four goals and seven assists last year. D’Amico is a graduate of Pittsford-Mendon H.S., earning all-state and All-Greater Rochester awards before starring for Geneseo State.
Andriy Demydiv – Nicknamed Andriy “The Giant” Demydiv, the Webster Schroeder H.S. graduate starred at Monroe Community College before joining the Lancers for the 2018 NPSL season and the M2 squad in 2018-19.
Rafa Godoi – The one-time Genesee Community College star led the team in goals (10) last year behind a late-season surge. A Brazilian native, Godoi is the only Lancers player to marry a Lady Lancer.
Rafa Godoi came on like gangbusters late last season. (Photo courtesy of the Lancers)
Jeremy Ortiz – One of the veterans of the team, Ortiz is a Lancers indoor Wall of Famer and a co-captain. He helped stabilize things last year, leading the team with 32 blocked shots and adding nine goals.
Dan Reger – A one-time star at Spencerport H.S., Reger played his college soccer at Roberts Wesleyan. He tallied twice in 16 appearances for Rochester last year.
Jeremy Ortiz always can be counted on. (Photo courtesy of the Lancers)
Michael Cunningham – Born and raised in Nottingham, England, the one-time Roberts Wesleyan standout has adapted to the indoor game with the Silver Knights and the Lancers. Also a YouTube soccer sensation with his training sessions.
Austin Gerber – Another Churchville-Chili H.S. star, Gerber was an attacking force for Keuka College. A key member of the Lancers’ M2 squad, Gerber suffered an ankle injury early last season and was lost for the year. He is hoping to make a bigger impact this campaign.
Alex Harling – Yet another Rush-Henrietta H.S. product who also earned All-Monroe County honors, he helped Roberts Wesleyan reach the national tournament. The 2019 outdoor Lancers’ defender of the year, Harling moved to forward indoors. He finished with three goals and five assists.
Michael Cunningham has become a YouTube sensation. (Photo courtesy of the Lancers)
Darryl Potter – After an outstanding career at Rush-Henrietta H.S., Potter helped Monroe Community College to an undefeated season up until the 2012 national junior college tournament as the Tribunes finished second. He attended Buffalo State. He played in four games last year.
Boomer Steigleman – Before missing the 2019-20 MASL season due to injury, the talented target player played a vital role in the Lancers’ finish in M2 in 2018-19 as team leading scorer (10 goals, league-best 19 assists, 29 points)
David Wright – After attending Victor H.S. and Aquinas Institute, Wright played for former Lancers defender Nelson Cupello at Monroe Community College. He also performed for the Rhinos before signing with the Lancers indoor and outdoor squads.
Miller was greatly encouraged by the progress of Rozzano and Godoi last year.
“You can start with Anthony Rozzano,” he said. “He was a key factor in every one of our games. He was one of our leaders on and off the field. He was probably one of the most consistent players for us. He did really well. I thought Rafa at the end of the year really started playing with a lot of confidence. … There’s guys that were rookies or younger players that are now going into year three, year four that are really going to have an opportunity to go out and be a game changer.”
Doug Miller: (There’s guys that were rookies or younger players that are now going into year three, year four that are really going to have an opportunity to go out and be a game changer.” (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
Miller said that he plans on starting training in October or November, once or twice a week and “really ramp it up as we get closer to the start of the season.”
The veteran Lancers head coach is looking for more improvement this season.
“Once you have 20, 25 games under your belt, you start to improve,” he said. Getting all the players firing on all the same cylinders and understanding how we’re going to play, I think we’re going to have successful year, especially if we sprinkle in a few veteran players who can score goals and help organize a little bit better from experience.”
Miller is returning along with members of his coaching staff, including assistants Adam Schwartz and John Berardicurti.
“It’s a great coaching staff,” Miller said. “We’ve been together for two years. We’ve grown. I can count on those two individuals as being a voice of reason. They’ve grown as coaches with their relationships with the players. When you have a culture like that, eventually once you change the culture, you can start to win games and win championships.”
For more information on the Lancers, visit www.RochesterLancers.com.