By Michael Lewis
Hey, Rochester soccer fans, circle May 16 on your calendar. That’s when the Rochester Lancers and Lady Lancers plan to return to action at home in more than a year.
During an interview on the Soccer is a Kick in the Grass radio show Monday night, Lancers owner Salvatore “SoccerSam” Fantauzzo let the cat out of the bag that the outdoor teams will kick off their respective seasons that at Charles A. Schiano Field at Aquinas Institute that Sunday.
“Kayla is going kill me for saying that but I’m pretty sure,” Fantauzzo told co-hosts Andrew Batisiti and Joe Sirianni. “We just don’t know if we’re going to have fans yet.”
Kayla is Kayla Kent-Moreira, the Lancers’ director of soccer operations.
If that date holds up, they would be the first Lancers teams to play a league game since the indoor Lancers performed, a 9-7 home victory over the Kansas City Comets March 7, 2020. That would be 436 days between Lancers games.
Traditionally, the Lancers play their outdoor games as doubleheaders – the men’s (National Premier Soccer League) and women’s (United Women’s Soccer) teams performing back-to-back on Sundays through the end of June or the beginning of July. Those teams have been around since 2017.
Fantauzzo said that he would make a decision on whether fans will be in attendance. It most likely will be up to the COVID-19 pandemic and how quickly citizens in the Rochester area are vaccinated.
“I’m going to make the decision and it’s going be based on safety,” Fantauzzo said. “If I feel that our players, our fans and our staff can be safe – we will love the fans, fans is how you pay the bills – but if somebody ends up being sick.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to make it fan friendly and safe.”
Lancers home games will be streamed on the internet, Fantauzzo added.
Fantauzzo indicated that the 2020 seasons could be his final year in the great outdoors.
“I’m not going say this in my last year, but it could be my last year doing outdoor soccer,” he said, adding that he has given the outdoor reins to long-time Lancers head coach Doug Miller.
Miller will run the men’s team and Marc Dall will coach the Lady Lancers. Dall has extensive coaching experience. He has been the head coach the Eastridge High School girls team from 2015 to date. He also has been the director of coaching and co-president of the Greece United Futbol Club, age division coordinator of the Rochester District Youth Soccer.
“Marc Dall is a great guy, dedicated to the sport,” Fantauzzo said. “He loves women’s soccer.”
Fantauzzo said he plans to bring back the indoor Lancers in November. Where the team will play is up in the air at the moment. The team’s home the past two seasons in the Major Arena Soccer League has been the Dome Arena in suburban Henrietta, N.Y., but that venue has been designated as a vaccination center.
“I think our destiny is out of our control,” Fantauzzo said. “If COVID continues, vaccines continue at the Dome Arena, it’s going to be an issue because they signed a lease with the state of New York as long as they keep it going on. I’m hoping everyone gets vaccinated well before November, but if that happens, we have looked at backup plans. One could work, one isn’t ideal.”