COLCHESTER, Vt. - Saint Michael's College men's soccer rising redshirt junior Leland Gazo (Colchester, Vt./Rice Memorial/Bradley) has emerged as the starting goalkeeper this summer for the Black Rock Football Club (Mass.) of USL League Two, including having recently appeared against the world-renowned New York Cosmos.
Gazo has yet to allow a goal in 150 minutes over two starts in USL2 play, posting 60 shutout minutes in a 3-0 victory over the Seacoast United Phantoms (N.H.) during Black Rock FC's league opener on Friday before turning in an eight-save clean sheet to backstop a 2-0 victory at the GPS Portland (Maine) Phoenix on Sunday. At 2-0, Black Rock FC, which is based in Barrington, Mass., and plays its home games at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, visits the Boston Bolts on Wednesday before an eight-day hiatus between games.
Prior to the beginning of the USL2 season, Black Rock FC took part in the prestigious Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, which has pitted squads from all levels against one another since 1914. The field regularly includes teams ranging from Major League Soccer to USL2 to the amateur ranks. In the opening round on May 8, Gazo's team faced the New York Cosmos, a National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) side with roots in the original 1970s/'80s franchise that brought international star Pele to the States. Despite six stops from Gazo, including one on a 12th-minute penalty, the Cosmos eked out the 2-1 win with a goal in stoppage time during a contest broadcast nationally on ESPN+.
Last season, Black Rock FC went 9-2-3 to win the Northeast Division during its first season in USL2, then known as the Premier Development League (PDL). Black Rock FC lost in a PDL conference semifinal to the New York Red Bulls U23, 2-1. Gazo was one of two reserve keepers, making five saves with a 1.64 goals-against average during 275 minutes over three games. For more information, visit blackrockfc.org.
USL2 is the leader in pre-professional soccer in the U.S. and Canada, boasting talented rosters of U23 players for 72 franchises stretching from coast to coast. Each team plays 14-game regular-season slates between May and July. Playoffs occur in late July, with each conference champion advancing to the national semifinals, and winners advancing to the USL League Two Championship in early August. For more information, visit uslleaguetwo.com.
In two seasons at Saint Michael's since transferring from Division I Bradley University, Gazo has appeared in 27 games, drawing 22 starts, averaging 4.2 saves with a 2.23 GAA. As an assistant captain this past fall, Gazo registered a pair of shutouts, with one a 1-0 triumph over regionally-ranked The College of Saint Rose.