June 10, 2019
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- On one hand, the Rochester Lancers won.
On the other hand, they did not play very well in their 1-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Hotspurs in National Premier Soccer League action on Sunday.
While Lancers head coach Doug Miller wouldn't put both his hands together to applaud his team's overall performance, he wasn't going to give back the three points his team had earned at Charles A. Schiano Field at Aquinas Institute.
"It was an ugly game for us," Miller said. "We didn't connect passes and we gave the ball away a lot. It's better to win ungly than to lose pretty, so I'm happy with the result."
Indeed, they are.
The Lancers (3-1-0, 9 points) are in third place in the East Conference while sixth- and last-place Pittsburgh fell to 0-3-0.
Lukas Fernandes gave the hosts all the scoring they needed in the 41st minute. He got the ball on the left side, cut into the middle and when no one stepped in on him, he laced a swerving shot that skimmed the post and went in.
Miller said he was impressed with several players, including left back Wyatt Scott, defender Jake Schindler, who was moved to defensive midfielder because Nathan Bourdeau wasn't available. Tyler Bagley came off the bench to provide some spark.
"He was like a little engine for us," Miller said.
But it was far from perfect.
"It was moments of brilliance for some players and a lot of us giving the ball away," he added.
Still, overall, Miller has liked what he has seen.
"I think we're a much better team than we were last year," he said. "We had some key additions."
Miller then rattled off several names, including forward Uros Momic, who allows Fernandes to play underneath the striker, midfielders Liam Callahan and Bourdeau, who played for Utica City FC (MASL).
"Guys who have influence at the higher level to come in and settle things down," the coach said. "Darren Tobey is always steady in the back. You can leave him isolated. He's a key defender for us."
Rochester's third-place finish in Major Arena Soccer League 2 certainly hasn't hurt this team's performance and attitude.
That success has spread to the outdoor side.
"I think it has in regards to the player personnel that the guys like the Rochester community," said Miller, who added that team owner Sam Fantauzzo "treats these guys really well in regards to the promotions and stuff like that."
Such as post-game parties at the Distillery.
"The guys really appreciate that," Miller said. "I think the success indoors helps us get local players who have these fulltime jobs that want to be treated like a star in this community and I think this plays really well in that regard."
The Lancers will face off with the Hotspurs again at the Ellis School in Pittsburg on Sunday, June 16 before returning home to Aquinas to meet Syracuse FC on Sunday June 23 at 5 p.m.
Miller realized his team needed to do some more work between now and then.
"Our decision making and playing and moving the ball quicker," he said. "We have so many technical players who want the ball, but we have to want to share it a little bit quicker and move off of it.
"It was hot out there. It was probably 90 degrees on the turf. It's the first game like that. So, fitness is always an issue. They're young guys who are working and you only train two or three times a week, so you can only do so much. It relies on the player to put that extra work in."
- Michael Lewis, Front Row Soccer -