ROCHESTER LANCERS WALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2011Former Lancers Segota, Campos, Popovic and others to be honored before Saturday's match
November 16th, 2011
The Rochester Lancers announced today that during the pre-game ceremony on Saturday, November 19 at 6:45pm, they will be introducing the 2011 Rochester Lancers Wall of Fame Inductees. This is the first time back to Rochester for several inductees in over 30 years.
The 2011 Rochester Lancers Wall of Fame Inductees are: Pat Dinolfo, Tony Pullano, Nuri Sabuncu, Charles Schiano, Claude “The Cat” Campos, Sal DeRosa, Pat Ercoli, Francisco Escos, Carlos Metidieri, Frank Odoi, Dragan “Don” Popovic, Branko Segota, Joe Sirianni and Mike Stojanovic.
The Inductees and families of the late Pat DiNolfo, Tony Pullano and Mike Stojanovic, will be available for pre and post-game autographs and meet and greet.
The Rochester Lancers host the Syracuse Silver Knights this Saturday at 7pm at the Blue Cross Arena. Tommy Tanner, former Rochester Rhinos captain, returns as the head coach and owner of the undefeated Syracuse Silver Knights. The Lancers lost their inaugural game to Syracuse on November 4th. Syracuse scored with 39 seconds left in the game to defeat the Lancers by a score of 16-15.
Season tickets can be purchased by phone at (585) 872-5425 or online at www.rochesterlancers.com. Kids, 12 and under, are free in our G/A sections. Individual tickets start at $10 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster and discounted ticket vouchers are available at all Wegmans locations. Active military members receive a FREE ticket, compliments of Smugtown Beacon.com (Game Day Only, with valid ID).
Years with the Lancers: 1967-1980 (Owner, President)
Born: Rochester, NY, USA
A man of great principle who believed that Rochester would become the “Green Bay” of soccer in the United States and dedicated his life to make that belief a reality. Became interested in soccer when he joined the Italian-American Sport Club in the early 1960’s. Became an owner of the Lancers in 1967 after he and fellow Wall of Famer Charlie Schiano were engaged by another Wall of Famer, Tony Pullano, and his committee to head up the ownership group for a potential franchise in the American Soccer League. Started as Treasurer of the Lancers in 1967 and was soon named President of the Team, a role which he held for the remaining 14 years of the franchise’s existence. Ran the day-to-day operations and business side of the Lancers office and Aquinas/Holleder Stadium.
Negotiated alongside Charlie Schiano to move the Lancers from the ASL to the North American Soccer League in 1970, a decision that allowed the NASL to remain in existence and shaped the future of American soccer as we know it today. Well respected by the NASL Board of Directors and his fellow owners. Served on the Executive Committee, the Indoor Soccer Committee, the Long-Term Planning Committee and the Labor Relations Committee of the NASL, where he helped to form league policies, rules and regulations and player contracts through the NASL Players’ Union. His reputation for being fair and practical led to an appointment as an arbitrator appointed by FIFA (the world governing body of soccer) to resolve disputes over ownership rights of foreign players.
Attended John Marshall High School, where he was an accomplished hurdler in track and field. Attended the University of Rochester, Rochester Business Institute, St. Bonaventure University and earned his Law Degree from the University of Buffalo. Practiced law in Rochester for over 50 years. Served as Chairman of the Board of the Northwest Hearing and Speech Center for many years. Passed away on April 13th, 2006. He cherished his days as a Lancers’ owner and considered everyone associated with the Club as his Lancer family. He will be most remembered for having the courage to dream and the fortitude to follow his dreams.
Years with the Lancers: 1967-1977 (Owner/Treasurer)
Born: Pentone, Italy
The motivator and visionary behind the start of the Rochester Lancers professional soccer team. His love of the Italian culture and desire to assist other Italian immigrants culminated in his helping to form the Italian-American Sport Club in the 1940’s. Served on the Board of the IASC when the club’s soccer team won the National Amateur Challenge Cup in 1963 and was President when the side was runner-up in 1966. With the help of IASC members Ed Merante, Patsy Frank and Rudy LePore, the initial committee of four had a vision and goal to secure a franchise in the country’s oldest professional soccer organization, the American Soccer League (ASL). Engaged Lancers Wall of Famers Charlie Schiano and PatDinolfo to head up the Lancers’ ownership group and the team played their first matches in 1967, with the majority of the players coming from the IASC amateur club.
Served as Treasurer of the Lancers for over 10 seasons and helped guide the team through their development in the ASL to their entry and play in the North American Soccer League, highlighted bytheLancers winning the NASL title in their first season in the league. Had a very special, private relationship with the Lancers’ players, coaches, office staff and owners. Continued with the Lancers until his passing on June 21, 1977, after which his son Dominick took over his father’s role as Treasurer and minority owner.
Immigrated to the US after his marriage to Antoinette and began a successful career owning several businesses, most prominent being Westgate Shoe Service. Quickly and proudly became a US citizen as he passed along his love for soccer and all sports to his children Frances and Dominick. His passion for soccer and community brought together a core of athletes and businessmen that have now become an important chapter in Rochester's history. He was a common man with an uncommon vision. The Pullano family proudly sees this uncommon vision still continues today with the indoor Rochester Lancers.
Years with the Lancers: 1977-1980 (Owner, Executive Vice-President)
Born: Mersin, Turkey
The last Rochestarian to purchase a principal ownership share with the Lancers. Played professional soccer in his native Turkey for world-renowned clubs Galatasaray SK and Besitkas JK as a striker. Named to the Ankara professional All-Stars in 1957 before moving to the US. Became involved in Rochester soccer through playing for the Italian American Sport Club amateur team from 1958-1962. His friendship with the coach and general manager of the team, Lancers Wall of Famer Tony Pullano, and his love for soccer and Rochester, led to eventually becoming minority owner and Executive Vice-President of the Lancers in 1977. Procured and organized the field advertising for the Lancers and arranged for the extra bleacher seating for the Lancers/Cosmos NASL semi-final playoff match on August 21, 1977 that drew 20,005 fans to Holleder Stadium. Remained with the team until the end of their final season in the North American Soccer League in 1980.
Graduated from Robert College in Turkey and earned an MS in Civil Engineering from Syracuse University. Worked for a Rochester construction firm for 12 years before forming Nory Construction in 1972, a leading Rochester-based company that celebrated its 39th anniversary in 2001. His firm worked on many major public engineering in Rochester, including the Monroe County International Airport and Route 531. Sponsored the Spirit Award for the Special Olympics held in Brockport and started the Special Olympics Chapter in Turkey.Awarded "The Most Successful Engineer" title in New York in 1988 and was elected the "Turkish American of the Year" that year by the Turco-American Association board. Became the world champion in the 1990 International Open Sea Speedboat Championship with his boat “Chairman of the Board".
Said the following about soccer in 1978, “Once you get involved, you can’t get out. Once you get that pleasure and excitement in your blood, it stays forever.” His desire to nurture something of value and importance for his adopted hometown of Rochester helped to make the Lancers a household word among the star-studded teams in the NASL of the late 1970’s.
Years with the Lancers: 1967-1980 (Owner, Chairman of the Board)
Born: Rochester, NY, USA
The father of professional soccer in Rochester. Became interested in the sport in 1966 after watching the FIFA World Cup Final between England and West Germany. Joined the Italian-American Sport Club, started attending amateur soccer matches in Rochester and became convinced that professional soccer was the sport of the future in the US. Became the majority owner of Rochester’s first professional soccer team in 1967, christening the new team the “Lancers”, the nickname of his collegiate alma mater, the University of Windsor (Ontario).
Became President of the American Soccer League soon after the Lancers joined in 1967. Arranged and headed up the Lancers radio broadcasts, the first team in the US to provide this type of media coverage. Before the 1970 season, when the North American Soccer League was down to 4 teams and ready to fold, spearheaded the Lancers and the ASL Champion Washington Darts shift to the NASL, thus saving the league and enabling the soccer boom in the late 1970’s to happen in the US. Brought in Wall of Fame coach Sal DeRosa of the ASL Syracuse Scorpions, and 5 of his players, including Wall of Famers Frank Odoi and Claude Campos, to Rochester in mid-1970 and the additions sparked the Lancers to the NASL title.
During the Lancers years, served as General Manager, Secretary, Treasurer, Radio and Television Announcer and even Coach of the team. Holds the record for best winning percentage of any coach in Lancers’ history, losing just 1 of 9 matches. Served on the Executive Committee and the Competition Committee of the NASL and was the unofficial chairman of proceedings at all NASL meetings. Invented the 35 yard offsides line that was used in the NASL for many seasons.
Attended Aquinas High School, the University of Windsor and Albany Law School. A long-time and well-respected attorney in Rochester. Served as the Rochester City Councilman for the Northwest District from 1971-1979 and earned the nickname “Lonesome Charlie” for being the only Republican on the Council. Began and hosted the first-ever soccer radio talk show in North America in 1994, “Soccer is a Kick in the Grass”, which began its record 18th season on the air in 2011. A man whose contributions to the infancy and development of professional soccer in the US, along with his devotion and dedication to the Rochester Lancers, have helped to make the sport what it is today in our country.
Years with the Lancers: 1970-1974 (goalkeeper)
Born: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The top goalkeeper in Rochester Lancers history. Nicknamed “The Black Cat” for the all-black uniform he wore in goal, his black hair, moustache and goatee and for his cat-like reflexes. Started his professional career in Brazil with Bonsucesso FC and Clube Atlético Mineiro before relocating to the US. Played with the Syracuse Scorpions of the American Soccer League in 1969, who were runners-up in the league that season.
Came to the Lancers midway through the 1970 North American Soccer League season with fellow Wall of Famers Frank Odoi and coach Sal DeRosa. Was the winning keeper for the Lancers in the 1970 NASL Championship Series against the Washington Darts when the team won their only NASL title. Named an honorable mention NASL All-Star in 1971 as part of the Lancers’ regular season title winning team, despite missing part of the year due to having his jaw broken in 5 places after being kicked in the head during a match against the Toronto Metros. Manned the nets for the Lancers in the 1972 CONCACAF Champions Cup, the only time an NASL team competed in the tournament. Started 43 of the 53 matches the Lancers played from 1972-74. Finished his career with the ASL New Jersey Brewers in 1975 and two-time US Open Cup winners Elizabeth SC in 1976.
Holds nearly every Lancers’ goalkeeping record, including most career shutouts and wins, most consecutive shutouts and minutes without allowing a goal and lowest goals against average in a season.
Years with Lancers: 1970-71, 1973 (coach)
Born: Pignataro Maggiore, Italy
The coach who led the Lancers to their only NASL trophies. Starting competing in pro soccer in Naples, Italy until a severe knee injury ended his playing days. Was the coach, general manager and owner of the Syracuse Scorpions of the American Soccer League in 1969, guiding the team to a tie at the top of the Northern Division and a win over the Lancers in a 1 match playoff for the division crown, before losing to the Washington Darts in the finals. Came to coach the Lancers (who had moved to the North American Soccer League) midway through the 1970 season, bringing 5 of the Scorpions’ top players with him, including Lancers Wall of Famers Frank Odoi and Claude Campos. Coached the Lancers to a 6-4-3 mark over the final 13 matches and then directed the side to the NASL title, defeating the same Washington Darts in a 2 match aggregate series, 4-3. In 1971, managed the Lancers to the NASL regular season title. Moved to Miami to coach the Gatos (the former Washington Darts) in 1972 before returning to the Lancers for his final NASL coaching season in 1973.
Started with indoor soccer in 1979, becoming the Vice-President and General Manager of the Buffalo Stallions of the Major Indoor Soccer League until 1982 and the coach of the team from 1979-1980. Founded the Buffalo Storm in 1984 in the United Soccer League, which also featured the Rochester Flash. Served as special consultant and president of the citizens advisory committee for the Buffalo Blizzard of the National Professional Soccer League in the 1990’s. Worked on the Buffalo World Cup committee bid trying to get matches at then-named Rich Stadium during the 1994 World Cup. After retiring from the professional soccer front office, helped develop youth soccer clinics in the Buffalo area throughout the 1990’s and into the 21st century.
Years with the Lancers: 1978-1980 (forward)
Born: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
A Rochester soccer legend as a player, coach and executive. Ercoli began his professional soccer career with Toronto Italia in the National Soccer League of Canada in 1976 before moving to the Montreal Castors in 1977, where he won a championship. Joined the Lancers as an 18 year old in 1978 and was named team Rookie of the Year. Was a regular starter for all 3 of his seasons with the Lancers, ending as 4th all-time in points and goals and 2nd all-time in assists. Played one more season in the NASL for the Jacksonville Tea Men in 1981. Earned one cap for the Canadian National team in 1980.
Joined the Major Indoor Soccer League’s New York Arrows in 1978 and helped lead the Arrows to the title. Played one season each for the Detroit Express and the Buffalo Stallions before joining the Baltimore Blast in 1982. In 3 seasons with the Blast, scored 112 goals in 170 regular season matches (9th all time) and tallied 43 post-season points (5th all-time). Was an important factor in the Blast making 3 straight MISL finals’ appearances, including winning the title in 1984. Finished his playing career with the Cleveland Force in 1986.
Became the first coach of the Rochester Raging Rhinos in 1996 and, in 9 seasons at the helm, brought home 3 A-League championships in 1998, 1999 and 2001 and the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup title in 1999, with the Rhinos leading the league in attendance in each of his 9 years as coach. Earned A-League Coach of the Year honors in 1998. Returned to the Rhinos in 2009 as the General Manager and was named President and Chief Operating Officer of the team in 2011.
Named as an inaugural member of the United Soccer Leagues Hall of Fame in 2002 and named to the Baltimore Blast Hall of Fame in 2010.
Years with the Lancers: 1971-1978 (Midfield)
Played more matches in a Rochester Lancers uniform than any other player. Started his career in his native Argentina, playing from 1961-69 with Temperley in 1970 for Estudiantes. Joined the Lancers in 1971 and had his best year offensively with 6 goals and 3 assists (tied for 4th on the team), helping the Lancers to a stellar 12-3-5 record and the NASL regular season title. A rugged defensive midfielder, he was named a NASL second team all-star in 3 straight seasons from 1971-1973. Played his final match for the Lancers in the NASL semi-finals against the Cosmos on August 25th, 1977 in front of 73,669 fans at Giants Stadium, the largest crowd ever to see a Rochester sports team. Moved to the Major Indoor Soccer League Buffalo Stallions in 1979 and played for 2 seasons before retiring from professional soccer.
Began his coaching career as an assistant with the Lancers in 1979. From 1982-84, served as the assistant coach for the Buffalo Stallions and did double duty in 1984 with the outdoor Buffalo Storm of the old United Soccer League as head coach. Returned to coaching indoor soccer in the 1990’s as an assistant with the Buffalo Blizzard for three years and moved back to Rochester in 1996 as the goalkeeper coach for the Rochester Raging Rhinos from 1996-2005. Became an assistant coach with the MISL Rochester Lancers in 2011, helping to bridge the gap between the NASL Lancers and today’s Lancers.
Years with the Lancers: 1970-1973 (forward)
Born: Sorocaba, Brazil
The Rochester Lancers’ first superstar. Nicknamed “Topolino” (Italian for "Little Mouse") due to his 5'4" stature and explosive speed on the field. Moved from his native Brazil to Canada at age 16 and played 2 seasons for Toronto Italia Falcons of the Eastern Canadian Professional Soccer League where he was the top goal scorer in 1965 and 1966 and the 1966 league MVP. Joined the Los Angeles Wolves of the North American Soccer League in 1968 and scored 16 goals. After missing the 1969 season, became a member of the Lancers in 1970 where his greatest achievements took place.
Helped lead the Lancers to their only NASL Championship in 1970, winning the league MVP award and tying for most points scored in the NASL. Topped the league in scoring again in 1971 and was a big part of the Lancers winning the NASL regular season title with a 13-5-6 mark. Scored the winning goal in the longest soccer match ever played on September 1, 1971 as the Lancers defeated the Dallas Tornado, 2-1, in the first match of the NASL semi-final playoff series after 176 minutes of play. Once again named NASL MVP for the 1971 season, becoming the only player in NASL history to be named Most Valuable Player twice. An NASL second-team all star in 1972 as part of another Lancers playoff squad. Played for the Lancers one more year in 1973 before finishing his NASL career in 1974 with the Boston Minutemen. Was the second leading goal scorer and point getter in Rochester Lancers history.
After becoming a naturalized US citizen, earned 2 caps for the US National Team in 1973. Came out of retirement in 1979 and played a single season for the Buffalo Stallions of the Major Indoor Soccer League. Was the special guest player for the Rochester Flash in the American Soccer League All-Star Game played at Holleder Stadium in 1982. Became a restaurateur after his retirement from soccer and has owned restaurants in both Rochester and Arizona.
Years with the Lancers: 1970-1978 (midfield)
Born: Accra, Ghana
Played more seasons with the Rochester Lancers than any other player. Competed for 5 years in his native Ghana in the 1960’s, earning a spot on the Ghana National Team and representing his country in the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Came to the United States in 1968 and started his US career with the Washington Whips of the NPSL (forerunner to the North American Soccer League). Played for the Syracuse Scorpions in the American Soccer League in 1969 and part of 1970, before coming to the Lancers. Helped the Lancers to their only NASL title in 1970. Selected as the Lancers Most Valuable Player in 1973. He was known as “The Man Who Marked Pelé”, as he was responsible for shadowing Pelé every time the Lancers faced the Cosmos. Joined the Major Indoor Soccer League Buffalo Stallions in the 1979-1980 season before retiring from professional soccer.
Became the assistant coach of the Rochester Raging Rhinos in 1996 and held that position for 9 seasons, which included winning three A-League championships in 1998, 1999 and 2001 and the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup title in 1999.
Dragan “Don” Popovic
Years with the Lancers: 1976-1979 (coach)
Born: Ivangrad, Montenegro, Yugoslavia
The all-time winningest coach in Rochester Lancers history and one of the pioneers of the North American Soccer League. Played nearly 100 matches for the St. Louis Stars and the Kansas City Spurs from 1967-1971 and was regarded as one of the top midfielders in the league, earning first team all-league honors in 1971. Played for the Toronto Serbian White Eagles in the National Soccer League of Canada from 1971-1973 and coached the side in 1974 and 1975, when the White Eagles won Canadian Cup title and represented Canada in the CONCACAF Champions Cup.
Became the head coach of the Lancers in 1976 and led the team to 2 straight playoff appearances, including the NASL semi-finals in 1977 against the Cosmos. Named the first head coach of the Major Indoor Soccer League’s New York Arrows in 1978 and, with many Lancers’ players on the team, won 4 straight titles from 1979-1982 and earned Coach of the Year in the 1980-81 season. Moved to the Golden Bay Earthquakes in 1983 and was named NASL Coach of the Year. Coached 6 more seasons in the MISL with the Las Vegas Americans, Pittsburgh Spirit, New York Express and St. Louis Storm before retiring from professional coaching in 1992.
Helped to found St. Louis based Lou Fusz Soccer Club in 1992. Coached 8 youth teams to Missouri State Cup titles from 2000-2010. Named to the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame in 2004.
Branimir "Branko" Segota
Years with the Lancers: 1979-1980 (forward)
Born: Rijeka, Croatia, Yugoslavia
One of the greatest strikers in the history of North American soccer. Joined the Rochester Lancers midway through the 1979 season and made a huge impact on the North American Soccer League, leading the team in scoring and tallying goals in each of the Lancers final 9 matches, with five of those being 2 goal games. Tied for the team lead in scoring in 1980 and ended up as 3rd all-time in points and goals in Lancers history in just 1 ½ seasons. Played for the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers from 1981-83 and the Golden Bay Earthquakes in 1984, scoring 48 goals in 98 matches and 12 goals in 13 NASL playoff matches. Voted North American Player of the Year in the NASL in 1984 by the Professional Soccer Reporters Association. Finished 14th all-time in points and 13th all-time in goals scored in NASL history. Earned 19 senior caps for the Canadian National Team and scored 2 goals. Played in all 3 matches for Canada at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.
Won more championships (10) than any player in indoor soccer history, 3 with the Major Indoor Soccer League New York Arrows, 6 with the MISL San Diego Sockers and one with the Las Vegas Dustdevils of the Continental Indoor Soccer League. In 9 MISL seasons, scored 463 goals and tallied 378 assists for 841 points in 403 games, 2nd in points and goals and 3rd in assists all-time in league history. A first team MISL all-star in 1980, 1981, 1985, 1986 and 1987 and the CISL Championship MVP in 1994.
Inducted into the Canadian Soccer hall of Fame in 2002 and was an inaugural inductee into the Indoor Soccer Hall of Fame in 2011.
Years with the Lancers: 1967-1980 (Trainer, Equipment Manager)
Born: Soveria, Italy
The unsung hero of the Rochester Lancers who was the first and longest serving employee of the team. His love for soccer began at a young age with his support ofItaly’s most decorated team, Juventus. Came to the US in the and moved to Rochester in 1957. To perpetuate his passion for soccer, became a member of the Italian-American Sport Club in 1964. Joined the Lancers before their first season began in 1967 when Dennis Jones, the player/assistant coach of the team, asked him to be the trainer and equipment manager, a position he held for the entire length of the Lancers’ existence.
Major duties included the physical well-being of the players and the club’s equipment needs, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Also served as unofficial team secretary, chauffer, field manager and any other role that the ownership needed doing. Often used his vacation time from his full-time job as a machinist to travel with the Lancers on road trips to diverse destinations like Guatemala, Vancouver and Hawaii. Was the Lancers’ player confidante and liaison between the team and the owners and coaches, especially helping the Lancers’ foreign players, many of whom did not speak English. The longest serving trainer in North American Soccer League history who, in 1976, became the only trainer to be ejected from a match, thus earning him the nickname “Red Card”.
After the Lancers ended, worked with the Rochester Flash of the American Soccer League as trainer and traveling secretary starting in 1981. Served on the Board of Directors of the Italian American Community Center and the Italian-American Sport Club. Has broadcasted matches for the W-League Rochester Ravens and devoted 17 years to the radio show that Lancers’ Wall of Famer Charlie Schiano started, “Soccer is a Kick in the Grass”. Fellow Wall of Famer Carlos Metidieri once said, "They should build a monument outside Holleder Stadium for Joe Sirianni. He's given more time and more effort to the Lancers than anyone I know.” Charlie Schiano added, "Joe was more than an employee. He's always been an unselfish person and a great friend."
Momcilo "Mike" Stojanovic
Years with the Lancers: 1976-1980 (forward)
Born: Lapovo, Serbia, Yugoslavia
The all-time leading scorer in Rochester Lancers history. Played professionally in the Yugoslavian 1st Division from 1969-71 before coming to Canada in 1974, joining the Toronto Serbian White Eagles of the National Soccer League of Canada. In 1974, scored an incredible 54 goals, still a league record, and added 42 goals in 1975, leading the White Eagles to the Canadian Cup title and a berth in the CONCACAF Champions Cup.
Was the Lancers leading scorer in 1976 (4th in points and 3rd in goals in the North American Soccer League) and helped the Lancers reach the NASL playoffs for the first time since 1972. Once again led the Lancers in scoring in 1977 (5th in points and 4th in goals in the NASL) and was named to the league All-Star second team. Scored the only goal in the Lancers 2-1 NASL semi-final loss to the Cosmos on August 21, 1977 in front of 20,005 fans at Holleder Stadium. Set a Lancers record with 13 assists in 1979. Was tied for top scorer on the Lancers in 1980. Played for the San Diego Sockers in 1981 and scored a personal best 23 goals and 52 points (2nd in goals and 3rd in points in the NASL) and was named North American Player of the Year. Ended his career with the Golden Bay Earthquakes in 1982. Finished as the 10th all-time in points and 9th all-time in goals scored in NASL history.
Earned his first cap with the Canadian National team in 1980 at the age of 33. Made 14 appearances for Canada in 1980 and 1981, playing in every national team match and scoring 5 goals, including goals in 3 straight matches in the fall of 1981. Inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame in 2009. Mike Stojanovic passed away on November 18, 2010 after a long battle with cancer.