SoccerSam: “The landscape of Rockstar outdoor soccer is changing.” (Photo courtesy of the Rochester Lancers)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

In a bombshell announcement Sunday, Rochester Lancers owner Salvatore “SoccerSam” Fantauzzo said that next week’s games will be his final games as owner of the two outdoor sides.

Fantauzzo said he has decided for the Flower City Union to take over the teams next year. Flower City will make its National Independent Soccer Association debut next spring.

“The landscape of Rochester outdoor soccer is changing,” he said after his men’s and women’s teams doubleheader at Aquinas Institute. “We have decided to go with a group that I think is going to bring it to the next level, to give the players the opportunity they deserve, the coaches the opportunity they deserve. We’re going to go with the Flower City Union, which is affiliated with St. John Fisher College. They’re going take over our outdoor teams to bring him to the next level.

“So next Sunday is a huge game for me, for these guys that work so hard, the coaching staff. So, I hope everyone … tells your family and friends to give these guys a nice farewell.”

The Lady Lancers will host Syracuse DA at Charles A. Schiano Sr. Field in a United Women’s Soccer game Sunday, June 27 at 2 p.m., followed by the Lancers men against Syracuse at 5 p.m. This past Sunday, the Lady Lancers lost to the Albany Rush, and the Lancers men fell to Erie Commodores FC, 5-2.

In 2017, the Lancers added outdoor teams, the women in United Women’s Soccer and the men in the National Premier Soccer League. They have played four seasons. The 2020 seasons were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fantauzzo praised how hard his staff and players have worked over the past several years before singling out Kayla Klark Kent-Moreira, who is the Lancers’ vice president of operations and CFO.

“This young lady here, Kayla Klark Kent has been working pretty much alone on the business side,” he said. “Doug Miller’s been working pretty much alone on the soccer side. We’re going to allow a whole group of people, with a whole college behind them, to bring outdoor soccer back to where it belongs and make Rochester soccer great again. So, thank you so much. I hope to see you here next Sunday at Aquinas. Thank you. Have a great Father’s Day to all the dads and soccer dads out there and obviously our soccer dads here on the pitch. Thank you so much!”

A long-time fan of the original Lancers, Fantauzzo has been involved with the rebirth of Rochester soccer with the Rhinos in 1996. He brought back the Lancers as an indoor soccer team in 2011 and the team played in four Major League Soccer League seasons before coming on hiatus in 2015. The Lancers were revived to play in M2 – the Major Arena Soccer League’s second division for the 2018-19 season before the club entered the MASL fray for the 2019-20 season.

Fantauzzo also announced the Lancers will honor former team owner Schiano and trainer Joe Sirianni at the doubleheader finale next Sunday. “They won the championship in 1970,” he said. “They were missing one little thing. So, we’re going to honor them with that one special thing next Sunday. So be here.”

The original Lancers jumped leagues from the American Soccer League to save the North American Soccer League in 1970, winning the league title that year. They folded after the 1980 season.

“Next Sunday, I want everyone here, we’re going have a great time,” Fantauzzo said. “These players have worked so hard over the years to represent what the original Lancers gave us back from 1970-1980.”

Nothing was said about the Lancers’ indoor team.

Fantauzzo owns Salvatore’s Old Fashioned Pizzeria and has more than two dozen restaurants in the Rochester area.