With their post-season lives hanging in the balance, Doug Miller knew his Rochester Lancers needed an edge. The first-year coach reached into his bag of motivational tricks and found what he needed.
Will Stone netted a pair of goals, and the Lancers downed the Erie Commodores, 3-1 in the NPSL action on Charlie Schiano, Sr. Field at Aquinas Institute, Saturday.
Stone provided his team-leading fifth and sixth tallies of the season with the equalizer in the 36th minute and an insurance goal in the 76th. Miller got the unofficial assist on both plays.
“He was mad at me because he didn’t get a start,” Miller said. “He played like he was mad, added a little bit more energy, a little bit more influence on the game.”
After thirty minutes riding the pine, Stone needed just six on the pitch to show his attitude had been adjusted.
“I was pretty motivated,” the Littlehampton, England native said. “I wanted to prove a point. It was frustrating not to start in a massive game like this. I was coming in after 30 minutes. I just wanted to come in there and get into it.”
Lukas Fernandes threaded a pass through the Erie backline, and Stone gathered the pass before beating Commodores keeper Jorge Prendes.
“As he flicked it on, I saw the defender coming,” Stone explained. “It was risky taking that extra touch, but I just nicked it. I toe touched it. I was happy it worked. It was joy when I got it.”
Glenn Holmes redirected a Fernandes cross in the 67th minute to give Rochester a lead it did not surrender. Holmes connected with a header off a direct kick from 34 yards out along the right wing.
“The guys have seen his quality over 12 games, and they get to the right spots,” Miller said of Fernandes. “If you can get to the right spot before someone else, you know you’re going to be able to score goals. That’s what we did on that set piece.”
Like Stone, Holmes came into the game as a substitution.
“I was just fortunate enough to put the right pieces in at the right time and motivate them or make them angry with me, so that they’d go and play a little better,” Miller noted. “You have to look for things that are going to motivate, inspire. I chose that as the time. If it had gone wrong, I’d a been the goat, but I’m okay with being the goat.”
With the victory, Rochester turned the tables on an earlier loss to Erie. The Commodores erased a one-goal deficit and went on to beat the Lancers 2-1 on July 2nd.
“When we were out there, we scored early,” Miller recalled. “We had four or five chances in the first half. We went in (to halftime) up one to nothing. They had a penalty kick in like the 60th minute and then a free kick in the 88th minute.”
Rochester took advantage of its chances on Saturday. Stone put away the match with a second-chance opportunity.
“When we got the third goal, it was a matter of now we can counter and get into space let’s get four,” Miller stated. ” I am not one who wants to dribble to the corner and hold the ball. Go and score and punish them and make a statement, especially since it’s our last home game for the fans.”
Rochester improved to 6-4-2 with the win. The Lancers will wait the result of Erie’s match at Syracuse FC on Sunday. A Syracuse FC victory and the Lancers will play the Dayton Dynamo in the playoffs. An Erie (6-3-2) win or tie, and the Commodores advance.
Malcolm Isaiah-Shaw gave Erie a 1-nil advantage in the 31st minute with his third goal of the season.