ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Lukas Fernandes converted a penalty kick in the 88th minute to lift the Rochester Lancers into a 1-1 tie with Cleveland SC in the National Premier Soccer League season opener for both teams at Charles A. Schiano Field at Aquinas Institute on Sunday evening.

With the Lancers trailing 1-0 late in the match, Fernandes was taken down in the box by goalkeeper Connor Cable as the Lancers were awarded a penalty kick. Fernandes took the attempt and drilled a shot down the middle of the net while Cable dove to the left. Fernandes was named the Dick Ide player of the match.

Only three minutes prior, Cleveland SC grabbed the lead during a scramble in the Rochester area. Goalkeeper Brian Wilkin dropped a shot when he hit the ground. He blocked a Kyle Cusimano shot and then forward Vinnie Bell, who was on the ground, inadvertently blocked Admir Suljevic attempt. The ball came to Cusimano, standing to the left of the net, and rifled a shot into the upper corner for a 1-0 lead.

Wilkin was superb in the net for the hosts, stopping several shots. His shining moments came in the opening half, when he stopped consecutive shots in the 25th minute.

Former Greece Athena High School standout Dylan Rice made his Lancers debut, coming on Matt D’Amico in the 53rd minute. Rice was the 2019 All-Greater Rochester boys’ player of the year and was selected the 2020 Monroe County boys soccer co-player of the year.

Brazilian native and forward Bruno Rovares, who signed with the Lancers prior to the game, also played in his first match. Rovares plays at Shawnee State University in Ohio.

The last time the Lancers and Cleveland SC tussled, the rivals combined for 10 goals in a wild and crazy extratime affair in the National Premier Soccer League playoffs almost two years ago. Cleveland SC won that encounter on July 20, 2019, 6-4.

In the first game of the doubleheader on Sunday, the Lady Lancers dropped a 2-1 decision to expansion team FC Buffalo in their United Women’s Soccer season opener.

Both Lancers team wore throw-back replica jerseys of the team from 1970, when Rochester captured the North American Soccer League title in its first year in the league.

The Lancers will host FC Buffalo in the second home game of their 10-match regular season at Aquinas on Sunday, May 23 at 5 p.m., after the Lady Lancers game at 2 p.m.

After Sunday’s game, the Lancers announced that they would welcome all fans for free for the rest of the UWS and NPSL seasons. Capacity at both openers were limited due to New York State protocols.

“Our fans had to deal with a lot at home, school and work the past year with COVID,” Lancers owner Salvatore “SoccerSam” Fantauzzo. “We want to give back!”

Team primary sponsors, Ide Family of dealers and the Salvatore’s Pizza family, will cover costs of tickets for the team’s fans.

Current season ticket holders and sponsors will have a designated section with perks, Fantauzzo said.

The Lancers urged all fans to make a donation to Camp Good Days, Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester or charity of their choice.