June 17, 2022
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - It happened so fast.
Word got out that Syracuse AC Pulse wasn't going to compete in the United Women's Soccer.
"I think Sam called me within five minutes of that asked me to come back to Rochester and I said absolutely," Brooke Barbuto said.
Sam being SoccerSam Fantauzzo, the owner of the Rochester Lancers and Barbuto being the 2018 United Women's Soccer MVP.
It has been no coincidence that the addition of Barbuto and five other women from Syracuse has helped transform the Rochester Lady Lancers into a formidable side.
Since Barbuto joined the team, the Lancers (2-2-1) are undefeated at 2-0-1 in the Penn-NY Division.
Barbuto and the team will try to continue their three-game unbeaten streak when Rochester visits the Pittsburgh Hotspurs on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Syracuse, N.Y. native said she still felt the sting of playing host Erie Commodores FC to a 2-2 draw last Saturday. Erie equalized on a late penalty kick.
"I'm still bitter about that tie the other day, so I can't wait for this weekend, to change the result," she said.
Pittsburgh is a UWS expansion team that is winless at 0-3-2, but Barbuto stressed not to underestimate the Lady Lancers' foes.
"They you know don't give up. they play through everything," she said. Their last game this past weekend obviously like wasn't their best against FC Buffalo [a 5-0 loss]. But we can't underestimate them as FC Buffalo is a very strong team. They can score a lot of goals as all the teams know. We just have to go out there taking them like not taking them for granted and ready to play all 90 minutes, 92 probably."
Of course, that 92 Barbuto was referring to was to stoppage time.
Barbuto's goals this season are straight and to the point.
"Our goal is to win our conference," she said. "That's something that coach Adam [Schwartz] and I have talked about a couple of times. Obviously, that Sam's and Kayla's [Kent-Moreira, Lancers president, CEO, COO] goal to do well and have productive team, a winning team. I'm just way too competitive."
Four years ago, Barbuto enjoyed a career year with Rochester, leading the team to the playoffs for the first time while recording eight goals and two assists. Those numbers secured her a top-five finish in UWS for goals and points (18) categories. She also led all midfielders.
She deflected much of the credit given to her.
"It was a great accomplishment. I was super excited," Barbuto said. "Rochester was such a amazing organization to play for. They did so well like promoting their teams and promoting their players. So they definitely helped me accomplish that. We had such a strong team that year. We finished really strong. We made the playoffs and I think teams has underestimated us. When we came out so strong in those first few games, scored goals and weren't giving up goals. We really kind of showed everybody what we are made of. That also helped. I was like so honored to have received that. But like my team definitely was a big part of that, for sure."
But her coaches and teammates realize the former Stony Brook University's standout worth to the team
"Her resume speaks for itself," Schwartz said. "When she's on the pitch, you know, it gives you a player-coach. She's a professional. She sets the standard in terms of how you approach training and how you approach matches/ That professional edge is only going to help our team and some of the younger ladies coming along."
Barbuto's resume includes stints with the Buffalo Flash, Haukar (Iceland), GBK and NiceFutis (Finland) and Peninsula Power (Australia).
Kesley DeLola, who scored both Lady Lancers' goals in their win over FC Buffalo, played with Barbuto on Syracuse DA for two seasons before joining the team.
"I love playing alongside Brooke in the midfield," she said. "She's just such a hard worker. She never loses the ball and she's always looking to make things happen. She creates so much on offense but then she's always getting right back [on defense] and she does an awesome job defending. She's just someone that I look up to and I want her as a person.
"I obviously think so much of her, but I just think she's just as good as she was last summer if not better. She just worked so hard. I think it's just her mentality, that almost like 'I can do anything. I can be as good as I want' because I think she can be."
Barbuto and her husband have a daughter, Bella, who will turn two-years-old in August. Bella attended the Lady Lancers' 2-0 home-opening win over FC Buffalo on June 5 and cheered on her mother. Given the fact that both her parents are soccer players, Bella most likely has the genes to be one herself. And it certainly doesn't hurt to have a pair of coaches at home.
"There's times in the living room we will play like keep away from her," Barbuto said. "We'll have her in the backyard with the soccer ball all the time. I think she's starting to learn the game."
Talk about a head start.
She is 35-years-old and still going strong, demonstrating her MVP form in her three appearances with five assists. Barbuto, who is the Utica University women's coach, admitted she didn't know long she will keep playing.
"I'm not sure," she said. "There were times that I thought you know, three years ago was this my last season. I think as long as I can."
Given Barbuto's track record, that might not be for a couple of more years.
The Lady Lancers will play at FC Buffalo in their final regular-season road match on June 24.
They will return home to play their final three games of the regular season against FC Berlin at Aquinas Institute on June 26, June 2 and Erie on July 10. All home games kick off at 2 p.m.
The Rochester Lancers are the oldest soccer brand in the United States, having started playing in the American Soccer League in 1967.