You’ll forgive most Comets fans for looking past the team’s first two games of the 2014-2015 season. Road trips against the Dallas Sidekicks and Chicago Mustangs had good storylines; one a former rival, while the other was a former champion. However, this game, against the rival Milwaukee Wave, was the one that many thought would be the first real test for the defending MISL Chmapions.
The Milwaukee Wave were not intimidated by the big scores put up by their counterparts so far this season. Relying on veterans Marcelo Fontana and Bato Radoncic, the visitors controlled much of the first half. Fontana opened the scoring and Radoncic assisted on the first three Milwaukee scores as their side dominated the first half of play.
Four different Wave players scored in the first half, an Own Goal scored on a Power Play was credited to JC Banks to add a fifth score. The Comets scored two at the end of the first quarter to keep themselves in the game and just before the halftime buzzer Andre Braithwaite caught Marcel Feenstra off guard with a great shot from an impossible angle. Although they were only down 5-3 at the break, the Comets did not look up to the task in their home opener.
"It’s ok to lose if we make small mistakes here and there," head coach Vlatko Andonovski told his team at halftime. "It’s unacceptable to lose because we aren't playing hard."
There may or may not have been more to his speech according to some players, but whatever was said, it worked.
Within the first two and a half minutes of the second half, Leo Gibson and Max Toulette had tied the game before Robert Palmer put the Comets in the lead 6-5. They scored three unanswered goals in 82 seconds, and they didn’t look like they were ready to let up after that.
Wave newcomer Anthony Arico tied the game for the Wave in the third period before Bryan Perez pout the Comets up 7-6 at the end of the 3rd.
Comets and Milwaukee seem to make every game interesting though. Midway through the final quarter, Stefan Stokic earned a trip to the penalty box with a dangerous slide tackle. The Comets were able to kill of the penalty, but before Stokic could even get back into the play, Ian Bennet scored a wicked goal from the former three-point line. Luckily for the Comets, they returned to the single-point scoring system as they were merely tied with 7-7 with their northern rivals.
The Comets are not lacking for scorers through the years, but the man they look to when the game is on the line is Leo Gibson. He did not disappoint tonight either. Brian Harris found the speedy forward who was closely guarded by Wave veteran defender Jonathan Greenfield. With three quick touches, Greenfield was on the ground and Gibson was tucking away a precision shot past Feenstra.
Bryan Perez’s insurance goal with five minutes remaining was the final nail in the coffin as the completed their comeback 9-7 win over the Wave.
"No disrespect for Dallas and Chicago, they both gave us great games…" Andonovski said after the match. "…but Milwaukee is Milwaukee. Regardless of what league they’re in, regardless of who’s coaching and who’s on the field, they’re going to be good."
The next hurdle for the undefeated Comets is the Wichita B-52s next weekend. Many familiar faces will be in the building as the B-52’s feature former Comets Boris Pardo and Byron Alvarez. The Rocket, Kim Roentved also serves as Technical Director for Wichita.