The Lancers season ended on Monday evening when the team lost Game 2 of the MISL Eastern Division Finals to the Baltimore Blast.
While the Lancers lost both games in the series by six points, Monday's contest felt a lot more even as the Lancers were able to score eight points at home versus only two in Baltimore.
Andrew Hoxie may have been the Lancers Most Valuable Field Player in the two games versus Baltimore. Hoxie was a part of all five goals that the Lancers scored with 2 2-point goals, 2 assists, and he drew the blue card that led to Doug Miller's goal in Game 2 off a restart feed from Chile Farias. Hoxie's six points has him tied for fourth in the MISL in playoff scoring after the Division Finals round of play.
Now the Lancers get to look forward to building a team for their second season of existance. Hopefully, the Lancers can avoid the step back that the Rhinos took in their second season.
It will be interesting to see how many key players the Lancers can retain and how many difference makers they can acquire during the off season.
Here are some of the key questions for the Lancers heading into the off season:
1 - Will Doug Miller return next season? Doug Miller turns 43 years young on May 5th. Whenever a player gets to that age, there will be a question of whether they will want to return for another season. Miller finished the regular season sixth in league scoring, so any questions of whether he could still play were answered. Now the question is does he want to continue to play.
2 - How many of the key in-season acquisitions will return? GK Patrick Hannigan, F Chile Farias, and D John Ball all brought needed experience to the Lancers roster mid-season. I would expect Hannigan to return, I wouldn't be shocked if Chile were back, and it would surprise me if Ball were on the roster from the get go given his family life in Cleveland.
3 - Can they keep the key young players and build on the experience they gained in 2011-12? Hoxie, Lubo, Kyle Manscuk, and Jake Schindler are just a few of the rookies that played well for the Lancers and have a strong start to the learning curve that everyone involved with indoor soccer talk about taking one to three seasons to come up. You can see the upside with a lot of the younger Lancers and keeping that young core together will be important moving forward.
4 - How do they close the gap between the Lancers and the more established teams in the MISL? The Lancers were 11-4 against fellow expansion teams in Syracuse, Norfolk and Wichita and 0-9 against the non-expansion teams in Baltimore, Missouri, and Milwaukee. To close that gap, the Lancers might need to add some veterans on those teams to help close that gap. Former Rhinos Max Ferdinand and Ian Bennett are two key players in Baltimore and Milwaukee and it's obvious that the Lancers like players with ties to Rochester. The Lancers could also use an upgrade in scoring from their defense corps. The Lancers did not have a defender in the top 10 in regular season scoring amongst defenders.
5 - They need to bring back Elliot Fauske only if he rocks the spiky mohawk all season.
Year one was fun. Hopefully year two is even more so!
News & Notes:
- Mauricio Salles was named to the All-MISL First Team.
- Check out the US Soccer 1 on 1 interview with Abby Wambach.
- AO Rochester gets some love on the AO blog for their Little Feet project.
- Rhinos captain Troy Roberts has high hopes for the season under new head coach Jesse Myers.
- Rich Costanzo won't be back with the Rhinos as he has signed with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
- Toronto FC upset the LA Galaxy to advance to the CCL semifinals and Herculez Gomez led Santos past the Seattle Sounders in CCL quarterfinals action.
- Fernando Clavijo has left the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the NASL to become the technical director of FC Dallas of MLS.
- Speaking of the NASL, they did get full sanctioning as a 2nd Division pro league by the USSF.
- MLS continues to look for the perfect location for a NY stadium.
- The US Olympic team will get their 4-3-3 formation tested during qualifying.
- Jurgen Klinsmann talks about the need of pickup soccer to develop soccer players in the US.
- If you like soccer documentaries, this might be for you.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the Rochester Rhinos or SoccerSam.com. Feel free to send any comments or complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org. James promises to read (but not to respond) to all of them.