SOME ADDED MOTIVATION: Lancers remember how their M2 quarterfinal foe Raptors blocked their ways into the 2023 playoffs

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - When the Rochester Lancers take the field at Hartman Arena in Wichita, Kansas on Friday, they will have some added incentive against the Iowa Raptors in the Major Arena Soccer League 2 quarterfinals.

They remember what transpired last year when the Raptors denied the team an opportunity to reach the M2 postseason by winning the penultimate game of the campaign, 5-4. The Raptors reached the final, losing to Chihuahua Savage II, 10-4.

"Oh absolutely. I think that goes without saying," goalkeeper Alastair Farmer said on the Soccer is a Kick in the Grass radio show on Monday. "They're going to be a tough squad. They earned their spot in the playoffs this year.”

The Raptors (5-7) finished second to the top-seeded Iowa Demon Hawks (12-0-0) in the North Division.

“As our coaches say, we cannot take anyone for granted,” Farmer said. “They came here on our home turf and stopped us. I think we're all going to come out with a chip on our shoulders and hopefully we come out flying and do the job."

So the second-seeded Lancers will be ready to take on the No. 7 Raptors at 2 p.m. ET on Friday(

"We're just getting ready for the game like any other game, where we know what we've got to do," forward Taner Bay told "We want to make teams have to deal with us more than we have to deal with them. ... But I'm sure we'll have a little bit extra just based off of how that ended last year for us."

The Lancers are gunning for their second league championship in their history. They captured the 1970 North American Soccer League crown.

With the quarterfinals set for Friday, semifinals on Saturday and the final and third-place match scheduled for Sunday, the final four teams each will play three games in a little more than 48 hours.

As it turns out, that suits the Lancers just fine, as eight of their 12 games this season were played back-to-back at home. They are accustomed to long weekends.

"Back-to-back builds your fitness up," Bay said. "It may be new for someone else, but I think the adrenaline and excitement of that third game should there be a championship game for us. I think we'll be ready and excited for it, no matter how tired we may feel before the game starts."

Rochester finished its regular season with a perfect 12-0-0 record to win the East Division title.

"To see us go undefeated is a testament to our leadership, to our system, to what we're playing and the camaraderie. We all just come together and play for each other," Farmer said, adding that former Lancers head coach Doug [Miller] "used to say, iron sharpens iron. That something that we really stand by."

One of the Lancers' big strengths has been their focus on their style of possession. They rarely veered away from it.

"That's definitely one of the biggest things that our coaches [say] ... if we stick to the system, the system is what's going to give us success," Bay said. "Once we start trying to do it on our own or just freestyling, it's going to make it tougher for everybody. So, sticking to that system, and always having that style of play, knowing where your teammates are going be just gives everybody a good baseline going forward."

Added Farmer: "I think a lot of this comes down to our execution throughout this year. It's not necessarily who we're playing. We're focusing on our system. It's playing with it inside of our needs."

Another one of the team's strengths is its balanced scoring and unselfishness on the carpet. They had 20 goal-scorers this past season. Ali Alomari led the way with 28 goals, followed by Bay's 20. Matt Di'Amico contributed 14 and Ryan Curtis had 11.

"We're always sure someone could have a decent shot from one side of the field but if you look up and see the guy sitting at far post who can just have an easy tap-in ... We're keeping the team in mind," Bay said. "At the end of the day, we want to win a championship. That's why we're unselfish. We really want the team to be the best we can be."

Beyond the goal-scoring, a big reason why the team went undefeated was due to their defense - team, backline and goalkeeping. They conceded an M2 low of 48 goals this past campaign.

"We always made it a goal every game to give up only a goal a quarter," Bay said. "We stayed pretty close to that, even towards the end."

If the Lancers defeat the Raptors, they will take on the winner of the third-seeded Wichita Wings and No. 6 Atletico Orlando. The other quarterfinal matches include the top-seeded Iowa Demon Hawks against the eighth-seeded St. Louis Ambush 2 and No. 4 El Paso Rhinos Uno Seis vs. the fifth-seeded Amarillo Bombers.

The semifinals will be played on Saturday. Sunday will see the third-place match at 1 p.m. ET and the championship game at 5 p.m. ET.

Friday's quarterfinals 

11 a.m. ET - El Paso Rhinos Uno Seis (4) v. Amarillo Bombers (5)

2 p.m. ET - Rochester Lancers (2) vs. Iowa Raptors (7)

5 p.m. ET - Iowa Demon Hawks (1) vs. St. Louis Ambush 2 (8)

8 p.m. ET - Wichita Wings (3) vs. Atletico Orlando (6)