Marc Dall admits that time is not on his side.
The Rochester Lady Lancers new head coach says that he probably will have four days with his full team before it kicks off the United Women’s Soccer League season against FC Buffalo on Sunday, May 16.
It will the team’s first competitive match since it dropped a decision at the Lancaster Inferno on July 7, 2019. That would be 680 days between games.
The 2020 season was cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, which still is playing havoc on many teams’ preparations for the 2021 campaign because the NCAA Division I women’s soccer tournament is being play at various venues in North Carolina. That has delayed players joining their respective UWS squads, including the Lady Lancers.
“Obviously, short turnaround,” Dall said in an interview earlier this week. “Most of them are not home yet from school. I’m going to have about four days to get them organized for the first game. Some of them are even still playing.”
For example, Victor, N.Y. native and midfielder Oliva Damico as her Penn State University team was eliminated from the tournament with a 3-1 loss to Florida State University in the third round in Cary, N.C. on Wednesday.
“I don’t know if that changes her availability for the weekend or not,” Dall said.
Because players won’t be familiar with one another, Dall plans to stress organized defense for the home opener at Aquinas Institute that Sunday at 2 p.m., the first game of a doubleheader. The Lancers’ men team meets Cleveland SC in its National Premier soccer League opener at 5 p.m.
Dall said his goal was “to be as competitive you can be. It might be more about defending, just trying to get through it but obviously Buffalo is going to be in the same boat. They’re full of UB [University of Buffalo] and Canisius kids. Kids are still taking finals this week.”
Trinidad & Tobago international goalkeeper Saundra Baron is expected to lead the defense. Baron, who attended East Carolina University, has made six international appearances for the Caribbean side. She made her international debut as a second-half substitute in a 6-0 loss to the U.S. women’s national team in 2015.
“She is the key in the back, sorting everything,” Dall said. “I remember listening to the game on my phone when I was at the Syracuse-Florida State women’s game and listening to her scream in the background because you can hear her. She’s very vocal.
“That’s where it’s going to start, with her experience, vision and leadership and just getting the back four organized.”
Notre Dame sophomore Waniya Hudson, a Greece Athena High School graduate, is slated to play one of the center back spots.
Forward Taylor Wingerden, a Palmyra-Macedon High School graduate who has been with the team since its inception in 2017, and midfielder Elysia Masters are among seven returnees from the 2017 team. They are expected to be among the team leaders.
“We have a lot of balance,” Dall said. “We have a lot of attacking options, a lot of central midfielders. So some good quality. The hard part is just going to be getting them organized. Again, it’s based on who’s available for the first game.”
Providence College freshman defender Grace Murphy, a Penfield H.S. grad, is slated to be available for the season opener. Dall added that he is waiting on the availability of two Ohio State players, “depending on what their coach has planned for them in the offseason.” The Buckeyes were eliminated from the NCAA tournament by Santa Clara University, 4-1, in the second round on May 1.
The Lady Lancers also have several players from Canisius College and Niagara University players on their roster.
Dall’s goals for the season are simple: battle for a playoff spot in the East Division.
“And then see where we are,” he said. “Realistically. it’s going to be determined on how these girls come together and play with each other. Nome of them have played together, whether it was in club or someplace else. I have three or four Canisius kids, Niagara kids. So, they’re all kind of familiar. The other thing that happened was, about 12 of them trained with me all winter … and played small-sided games.”
Dall succeeds Monroe Community College women’s coach Sal Galvano as Lady Lancers head coach. A Warsaw, N.Y. native, Dall has coached at the Rochester Lancers Academy for 10 years and with Doug Miller Soccer for 13 years. He also an Olympic Development Program coach with the New York West Youth Soccer Association, the East Irondequoit High School girls coach and president of the Greece United Futbol Club.
“So, I am busy,” Dall said.
So will the Lady Lancers this spring.
They will play 10 games during the regular season, five at home, all on Sundays at 2 p.m., as the opening match of a doubleheader with the Lancers men.
Rochester hosts New Jersey Copa at Aquinas on May 23. After three consecutive road matches, the Lady Lancers will welcome Lancaster on June 13. They finish their home slate with contests against the Albany Rush (June 20) and Syracuse DA (June 27). Their regular season finale is at FC Buffalo on July 10.