Rochester Lancers head coach Doug Miller says that neither he nor his players have revenge on their minds when they host Cleveland SC in its National Premier Soccer League season opener on Sunday.
They just want to kick off he season in the best way possible – with a win.
The Lancers and the Ohio team will meet at Aquinas Institute in Rochester, N.Y. in the second game of a doubleheader at 5 p.m. The Lady Lancers, directed by new head coach Marc Dall, will face Buffalo FC in the opening encounter at Charles A. Schiano Sr. Field at 2 p.m., their first competitive match in 680 days.
Almost two years ago – 667 days on Sunday, the Lancers men and Cleveland SC tussled in a NPSL playoff game that took two days to complete. Cleveland SC prevailed in a wild 6-4 decision in extratime in one of the wildest NPSL playoff games in history. The contest finished in Hamtramck, Mich. on July 20, 2019.
“It feels like five years ago, and that game is in memory,” said Miller, who has 18 returning players from the team’s indoor and outside squads. “I think the mindset of a lot of the players are, we’re just happy to be able to play, to be out there and share our talents.
“It’s not like hey, we’re going to pay them back for that game. I think it’s more that we’re very fortunate enough to get back to some sort of normalcy.”
Normalcy would be winning and returning to the postseason. That is the Lancers’ primary goal, but not the only one.
“You always set out in the beginning of the year you want to be making into the playoffs,” Miller said. “We want to win an NPSL championship. We certainly want to do that for Sam, because he sacrificed so much to keep the men’s team around both outdoor and indoor.”
Sam is team owner SoccerSam Fantauzzo, who brought back the Lancers in 2011 with an indoor team. He added men’s and women’s outdoor teams in 2017. Both sides played three seasons before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the leagues in which they compete to shut down for 2020.
Due to COVID-19 protocol restrictions, both games are at maximum capacity for this Sunday.
Lancers fans can catch each match at www.RLancers.com.