In a match of the two highest scoring teams in MISL, the Missouri Comets host the Milwaukee Wave at 3:00 PM today at the Independence Events Center in the first round of the MISL playoffs. The Wave are the second seed with a 16-4 record and the Comets are the third seed with a 14-6 record.
The Comets and the Wave have formed an intense rivalry with some intense, physical and more importantly dramatic matches. The Wave are normally regarded as the best (or at least second best) team each year in indoor soccer but the Comets have managed to knock that reputation down a bit.
While there have been some strong entertaining matches between the two teams since shortly after the Comets joined the league four years ago, it is really last year and this year that the Comets have done some damage and cemented the rivalry.
Looking back to last year in the playoffs when the Comets also hosted the Wave for the first match of the semifinals, it was tied at the end of regulation. The Wave ended up taking the first game against the Comets in sudden death overtime.
The drama continued in Milwaukee where the Comets were trailing at the end of the 4th quarter. The Comets pulled the goalie and went with the sixth attacker and ultimately stole the second game when Leo Gibson scored with just 37 seconds left in regulation to setup a 15 minute mini-game.
The last second heroics did not end there. The Comets scored first in the mini-game but the Wave countered with two goals to take the lead and it came down to a restart near the Wave goal with just seconds left on the clock when the Comets' Byron Alvarez one-timed a John Sosa pass into the net for the game winner. The Comets lost in the championship round to Baltimore.
This season started with the Wave at the Comets. After the Comets took an early lead, the Wave seemed to remember who knocked them out of the playoffs as Milwaukee clawed back to eventually tie and again scoring a game winner in overtime.
Milwaukee next two trips to Kansas City were not so pleasant. The Comets held the Wave scoreless for a half before winning in 15-6 in their second meeting and then destroying the Wave 22-4 in their third match at the Comets.
With the first three matches at the Comets and the next three of the season series at Milwaukee, it looked like the Wave would take control again with a 16-4 domination but the Comets wanted to end the season strong and end strong they did.
Part of the Comets five game win streak to end the season included 15-9 and 9-4 wins in Milwaukee. Throw in a 24-4 domination of Pennsylvania, a 26-21 barn-burner with St Louis and a 27-6 match in St Louis that was not as close as the score suggested and the Comets made a statement to end the season.
To make the 5 game win streak even more impressive for Missouri, four of those matches were played without their Captain and a top scorer Vahid Assadpour.
"I definitely have to be happy with the performance of the players; it seems that we are peaking at the right time now," Comets head coach Vlatko Andonovski stated. "The guys are on the right track with the right mentality. We just have to keep going the way we have been these last few weeks."
You would think that taking four of six in the regular season and finishing with five straight wins would give the Comets a ton of confidence going into the playoffs. Andonovski was not quite willing to go that far. "Not sure if it gives us confidence but it's definitely a good thing. Milwaukee is a great team with coach Tozer leading them they can beat anybody anywhere. We are very well aware of it and are not going to take the games any lighter. We know what they can do and we are going to try to be strong enough," Andonovski stated.
Milwaukee's coach Tozer is a great indoor and futsal coach and will have his team ready to play but it is easy to imagine the Comets have to be in their head just a little bit by now. The dramatic wins in the playoffs and the fact that the only four losses for Milwaukee this season came at the hand of the Missouri Comets would make it easy to think about.