If there’s anyone playing for the Rochester Lancers who knows about adaptation, it’s Rafael Godoi.
The 22-year-old midfielder from Osasco, Brazil, left his homeland in 2015 to play soccer at Genesee Community College in Batavia, New York. Not only did he need to learn a new language, he also needed to adjust to a different style of play.
He was learning English off the pitch and U.S. soccer on it.
“It’s so different playing in Brazil and playing in the United States,” Godoi said.
He learned both quite quickly. Godoi led all National Junior College Athletic Association Division III players in assists (24) and was second in points (62) as a sophomore for the GCC Cougars.
Now Godoi is back in adaptation mode as the summer season begins with the Rochester Lancers of the National Premier Soccer League. The Lancers, rebranded after playing in 2016 as the Rochester River Dogz FC, debuted on Sunday afternoon with a 2-1 loss to the Dayton Dynamo at Wegmans Stadium on the campus of Aquinas Institute.
Alberto Zaragoza scored the winning goal in stoppage time, hammering home a loose ball from deep in the box, to stun the Lancers.
“It’s so disappointing,” Godoi said. “You’re so focused, you’re playing well and you’ve had chances to score.
“Their winning goal, the ball was just bouncing inside our box. It was a weird goal.”
Considering the Lancers hadn’t played a game, while the Dynamo were playing for the third time, there was a clear difference when it came to cohesive play.
Which was to be expected, Lancers coach Doug Miller said. His team had practiced only eight times. The game had only reached the 13th minute when Matt Kinkopff found himself free for a shot in the box to give Dayton (2-0-1) the 1-0 lead.
“I thought as the game went along we found our way,” Miller said. “In the second half we probably had 70 percent of the opportunities.”
The problem: they only capitalized once. Godoi fired home a shot from the left of the box off a pass from Isaac Kissi in the 60th minute to tie the score.
Kissi had entered around the 65th minute as a substitution. That’s called the right coaching move.
“If you’re going in as a sub, you have to be better than the player you’re going in for,” Miller said.
The Lancers have a chance to erase the bitter memories from the last-minute loss when the travel to McKees Rocks, Pa., for a game against the Fort Pitt Regiment.
“I’m pretty sure the next game we’ll be better,” Godoi said.