After three quarters of edge-of-your-seat arena soccer, the Milwaukee Wave ran out victorious with a big final 15 minutes to hand the Comets their fifth loss of the season by a score of 8-3 in front of 5,126 fans, which is the second largest home crowd in team history (2010-Present). This puts the Comets average attendance at 4,235, which is second in the entire league after finishing last season in 12th place with an average attendance of 1,988.
The Comets entered Saturday’s match without John Sosa, Adam James, and Ray Saari, and Mark Saxby, who watched on the bench as Lou Misner got his third career start.
Milwaukee scored the only goal of the first quarter, as Luan Oliviera scored on the powerplay. Leo Gibson leveled the score for the Comets at 1-1, capitalizing on a bad error by Wave keeper Rafa Dias. Milwaukee quickly retook the lead after Alex Bradley fired in his fourth goal of the season. After a pretty calm opening 25 minutes, the referees were the subject of attention in the closing minutes after a couple questionable calls and an incident between Ray Lee, Max Ferdinand, and Angel Curiel that caused a little brawl.
Ian Bennett added a third for the Wave, assisted by Marcio Leite on the powerplay to make it 3-1 Wave. Robert Palmer assisted Stefan Stokic to bring the Comets back within a goal, as Stokic scored his first goal since December of 2018. Alex Bradley scored another couple to complete his hat trick to give Milwaukee the 5-2 advantage in the fourth period. Ian Bennett added his second of the evening to make it 6-2 against the Comets sixth attacker. Gibson scored his second of the night late in the fourth to make it 6-3. Bennett finished his eighth career hat trick against the Comets and another goal from Isaac Pereyra put the final scoreline at 8-3 as the Wave handed the Comets their first home loss of the season and remained undefeated on the road this season.
The Comets drop to 3-5 and have lost two straight while Giuliano Oliviero and the Wave improve to 6-1 and have now gone five without facing defeat.
After a very good first three quarters, especially without Sosa, James, Saari, Saxby, and an injury to Lucas Rodriguez in the first quarter as Stefan Stokic picked up another injury in the second half, the Comets’ tired legs collapsed as they chased to draw level. The Wave showed why they are the defending champions, as they capitalized on Comets’ mistakes both mentally (giving Milwaukee two preventable first half powerplay goals) and physical mistakes.
Although Lou Misner stepped up again with some good saves, his distribution was poor. The Comets third keeper of the season had too many misplaced passes either to the other team or fired out of bounds, which made it difficult at times for the Comets to build from the back and retain possession. In Kevin Ellis’ first game back with the Comets, he picked up a decent amount of minutes, but wasn’t hugely effective.
No loss is a good loss, but it is a loss that head coach Leo Gibson should be able to live with. The Comets hung with the champions for the first three quarters, which is always a good sign. This was certainly a loss in which good things can be taken from, but also plenty to learn from, especially when it comes to getting frustrated. The Wave maintained calm heads the entire match, which ended up being the difference between the two sides.
The Comets return to action next Friday, January 17th, when they welcome the Orlando SeaWolves to Silverstein Eye Centers Arena for the first time this season.
Elsewhere around the MASL, former Comet Alex Megson scored a sensational bicycle kick as the Tacoma Stars defeated the Mesquite Outlaws by a score of 8-5.