The recently re-branded Rochester Lancers opened their 2017 NPSL campaign with a 2-1 loss at home at the hands of the Midwest Region’s East Conference surprise package Dayton Dynamo. The visitors took an early first half lead through Matt Kinkopf and Rochester’s equalizer before the hour mark appeared to shift the match in their favor before Dayton grabbed a stoppage-time winner.
Taking head coach Doug Miller’s attacking sentiment to heart, the home side tried to cut through the Dynamo defense with diagonal balls over the backline. While the temperature was ideal for a soccer match, the wind in Rochester wreaked havoc with the Lancers’ attacking buildups. The Lancers had willing runners from midfield early in the match but could not meaningfully connect in the final third.
In the 13th minute, Dayton broke the deadlock on a play that started with a speculative 30-yard shot by midfielder Daniel Ramirez Martin. Rochester center back Alex Harling blocked the initial shot but the ball fell kindly to Dayton’s Matt Kinkopf just outside the penalty area.
Kinkopf played the ball through a flat-footed Harling’s legs before also tapping through full back Ethan Francois-Ravalier’s legs. After the two nutmegs, Kinkopf set his own feet to fire a left-footed drive across the face of goal and just inside Tyler Brew’s left post.
A tremendous individual effort gave Dayton Dynamo the early lead on the road.
Kinkopf’s goal was the difference at the break and pushed Lancers head coach Doug Miller to make several changes early in the second half. Miller’s 51st minute substitution to introduce former Rhinos forward Isaac Kissi to replace Will Stone proved fateful for the hosts.
Just before the hour mark halftime substitute Austin Gerber cut back onto his dominant foot in the right channel to swing in service to Kissi’s feet. The former University of Dayton attacker controlled the pass, held off experienced center back Ibra Kebe Baye, and laid the ball into the path of Rafael Godoi’s deep run from midfield.
Godoi lined up the strike to curl his right-footed effort around Dayton defender Peyton Mowery and past a diving Paulo Pinto. Rochester’s 22-year old Brazilian scored against Dayton’s 22-year old Brazilian in the 59th minute to tie the game.
Both teams combined well in midfield but failed to connect in the final third. As regulation wound up, Dayton coach Dan Griest replaced hard-working forward Tristan Lyle with the energetic Alberto Zaragoza. Deep into stoppage time, Zaragoza popped up with a timely contribution.
Dayton’s David Janusz headed an aerial 50/50 ball forward for Zaragoza who played a pass over the top for Joel Twinem to chase. Though Harling appeared to have the situation under control for the Lancers, Twinem pressured the centerback into a hurried clearance that fell to Zaragoza’s foot. On the field for only a couple of minutes, the poacher’s effort from Zaragoza won the game for the visitors in stoppage time.
Dayton Dynamo head coach Dan Griest was pleased with a very successful road trip for the fourth-year NPSL team.
“Early in the season to go on the road, travel five, six, seven hours, come out here and get two results this weekend is very good for us,” Griest said after the match.
“We started the same XI that started last night. It’s a testament to those guys. On heavy legs, on a 16-hour turnaround, to have to come out and put up another shift is really tough. Particularly at this level because it’s just a physical league. For those guys to go out there tonight and keep fighting and to steal three points is fantastic.”
On that supposed robbery, Griest laughed, “Obviously, I’d love to say that I was planning on subbing in a guy in the 90th minute to go and get the winner, but we’re just fortunate. He came on and he worked really hard and he took his chance. And that’s the biggest thing at this level is just to take the opportunities that you’re given and make the most of them. And that’s how we’re going to be successful.”
Though the team has a successful run to start the 2017 NPSL campaign, Griest isn’t getting ahead of himself. “It’s so early in the season, we don’t have time to be looking at the table,” he said. But the second-year Dayton coach was optimistic for the team’s chances this year.
“To get two big road wins this week is very good for us. And hopefully there’s better things to come.”
Dayton Dynamo’s front office ensured it would hit the ground running be scheduling a number of preseason friendlies. This match practice this provided was evident in the final result and something both coaches mentioned.
Former Rochester Rhinos and Lancers indoor forward Doug Miller made his coaching debut for the NPSL Lancers. Miller was upbeat about the performance even though the deciding goal in stoppage time gutted the Lancers team.
“It was a pretty good game for us, being the first game that we actually played this year outside,” Miller told media after the game. “We’ve worked on sharing the ball. The movement off the ball wasn’t as good as we’d like and that’s something they’ll have to build up once they get to know each other. We’ve been together for, I think, eight training sessions. So in eight training sessions, I thought it was a pretty good game for us. Hopefully we can continue to build on it and get these guys motivated for Wednesday.”
“I thought today’s performance is something that we can really build on and that was their third game. They’ve been together and played pretty competitive matches. And even though it was a back-to-back, they had good fitness. Wednesday we’ll come out and take it to Fort Pitt.”
Rochester’s goalscorer Rafael Godoi spoke to media after the match about how the team can grow in the coming weeks. “We’re going to improve in match fitness, working the ball better, making better passes for my striker and for my outside mids. We have to have more chemistry because otherwise sometimes you’re just kicking the ball.”
Godoi has now scored in two consecutive matches for Rochester’s NPSL team, netting his first league goal in the final Riverdogz game of 2016. The Brazilian-born attacking midfielder, who lines up for Genesee Community College, is hoping his personal growth can spur on his team to success this summer.
“Last year was my freshman year in college and in the United States so I was really trying to understand the game here. Because it’s so different playing in Brazil and playing in the United States. And playing community college and NPSL is such a different game,” Godoi said. “Now I feel much better and more confident. Last year I was confident but the goal was not coming. So this year, I scored in the first game so I’m pretty sure I’ll be playing better and the team will be better and we’re going to bring the wins home.”
The Lancers now embark on a three-game road stand, starting with Fort Pitt Regiment on Wednesday, May 24th. Dayton Dynamo takes its undefeated record back to southwestern Ohio for their home opener against AFC Cleveland on Friday, May 26.