June 9, 2022
By: Front Row Soccer
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Kelsey DeLola could not have asked for a more memorable or fabulous debut.
"I mean, her ability to finish was remarkable," Lady Lancers head coach Adam Schwartz said.
Indeed, it was.
The Baldwinsville, N.Y. native struck twice within a 20-minute span in the second half to lift the Rochester Lady Lancers to a 2-0 home-opening victory over FC Buffalo in United Women's Soccer action last Sunday.
DeLola, who attends Villanova University, is one of several Syracuse-area players who have fortified Rochester. The team avenged a 4-0 season-opening loss at Buffalo the previous week without several players from Syracuse.
"It was super exciting to have everyone together on the field," DeLola said. "Our whole team was there. It was a lot of our first times playing together. I have played with the other Syracuse girls quite a bit. So, we were comfortable with each other.
"I think just all of us coming together after playing the past few years, playing the Rochester Lancers. I think they're a great team and have great players. Just coming together with them was super exciting. We will be improving but as the game went on, we got more comfortable with playing with one another. I just felt like we were continuously improving."
The 19-year-old DeLola and her Rochester teammates will have an opportunity to add to their point total in the Penn-New York Division when they play at FC Berlin on Friday at 7 p.m.and then at Erie Commodores on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.
DeLola connected for Rochester's first goal of the season, slotting home Hannah Knych's right-wing cross from six yards in the 65th minute. Team captain Brooke Barbuto started the scoring sequence by passing to Knych on the right flank.
"I honestly feel like I probably could have finished one-touch because her pass was like perfect, right at my feet but I just took the touch to be safe," DeLola said. "I checked my shoulder first and make sure the girl [defender] wasn't going to be able to stop if I took a good touch. Knych had a great assist and I defer most of the credit for that goal."
Schwartz admired that goal.
"It happened really quickly," he said. "It was difficult for the keeper to react to it. Her technical ability is impressive as well."
Twenty minutes later, DeLola stepped up to hammer a penalty kick home to give the hosts some breathing room.
"I looked around just because I don't if someone's like, 'Oh, I totally want to take it,' " she said. "I definitely don't mind taking them. I have confidence and experience. I was looking at for Brooke to take it and she was like no, you take it. So, I just stepped up and I was I felt confident in that moment. So I was excited, just to put the ball away."
Schwartz admitted he hadn't seen DeLola play much prior to joining the team.
"But she received a strong recommendation from Brooke, and I trust Brooke," he said. "We followed up on that because we thought we could use some support in our midfield and perhaps up top. She's been everything we would hope for. She's got pace. She's mobile, a great technical player who can get a ball, hold the ball and allow us to really expand our offense, allow players to get in their proper place, and then she plays it. I mean, her ability to finish was remarkable."
DeLola has been one busy woman this summer.
Besides her Lady Lancers responsibilities – remember, she has to drive three hours roundtrip to practice every Wednesday - DeLola is taking three courses after switching her major at Villanova from business analytics and finance while handling intern responsibilities at Play Fly, a start-up company, and even finding time to work at a golf course.
"It's definitely not a relaxing summer," DeLola said. "It's definitely always going from one thing to another. But I love to keep busy and work hard and do different things throughout my day."
DeLola has been an expert at game management.
"That's definitely something that I've had to master throughout college, balancing soccer and academics," she said.
After one game, Schwartz isn't taking anything for granted.
The Lady Lancers signed another Syracuse-based player - SU captain and forward Meghan Root. After all, you can never have enough goals or goal-scorers in soccer.
"We hope to add a little firepower up top," Schwartz said. "She trained with us last evening. She's a special player. We're looking forward to see seeing her play as well."
After the Lady Lancers finish a four-game road trip, they will return to Charles A. Schiano Field at Aquinas Institute to host FC Berlin on June 26 at 2 p.m.
The original Rochester Lancers were formed in 1967 and continue to be the oldest professional soccer brand in America.