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Comets impress with statement win over Wave

One of the best starts to a season in team history.

Rian Marques scored twice and added an assist in his first game of the season
Thad Bell

The exceptional start to the season for the unbeaten Kansas City Comets continued on Wednesday night with a 10-4 statement win over the Milwaukee Wave.

With a trio of three-point performers and five multi-point performers, the Comets had many quality performances for their first meeting with the Wave in 677 days. Kevin Ellis led the way with three goals. Leo Gibson followed with three assists and Rian Marques, making his season debut after having his visa cleared, had two goals and an assist. Goalkeeper Nicolau Neto made some stellar saves, ending with 12 total saves and a .750 save percentage.

While the Comets left with another win, things got off to a nightmare start after the Wave scored twice inside the opening three minutes with goals from Kyle Crain and Ian Bennett.

“I think we just came out a little too aggressive, a little too amped up,” Ellis said. “It’s hard not to when you have a crowd like this. We just didn’t do the little things right. You’re overrunning things, passes weren’t crisp. Not every time you get to say this, but it was good to give up a couple goals to finally settle down.”

The Comets eventually settled down and found the perfect response with a pair of goals from Rian Marques to even the score at 2-2 with 2:38 seconds remaining in the opening quarter. Marques celebrated his first goal by unveiling a shirt he was wearing under his jersey that read “Forca Itabuna Bahia,” which was a message of strength to his hometown of Itabuna in northeastern Brazil due to recent hardship with flooding.

“My town right now in my state are going through a tough moment back in Brazil with a lot of heavy rains and flooding,” Marques explained. “A lot of people lost their houses and their belongings.”

Marques said the KC Star will be publishing an article that will show how people can help with donations and ways to get the people back on their feet.

After leveling the score, the Comets kept building the momentum and took the lead with goals from Kevin Ellis and Lucas Sousa inside the final 90 seconds of the quarter to take a 4-2 lead after the first 15 minutes of action.

Moments after KC missed a big chance to go three goals ahead, Milwaukee’s Crain scored his second of the night to pull one back for the visitors. John Sosa returned the two-goal lead for Kansas City with more than two minutes remaining in the first half as he blasted a free-kick past the one-man wall on the Comets powerplay, giving the hosts a 5-3 halftime lead.

The Wave made it a one-score game once again after Luan Oliveira scored on a Milwaukee powerplay in the third period. The Comets responded again as Ellis completed his hat trick with a pair of goals to put the Comets ahead 7-4 after three quarters.

The Comets continued to add to their lead in the fourth quarter when Leo Gibson set up Matt Lewis’ first goal of the season to make it 8-4 with 10:23 remaining.

Facing a four-goal deficit, Milwaukee inserted their sixth attacker with over 10 minutes to play. Ignacio Flores made it 9-4 against Milwaukee’s sixth attacker after picking up the loose ball in KC’s defensive half and composing himself for his second goal of the season. The Comets scored their last of the night when former Park University teammates Flores and Sousa linked up for a quick 10th goal after Flores sent a fantastic diagonal ball, which was controlled and finished perfectly by Sousa.

The Comets (4-0) remain at the top spot of the Central Division with 12 points, six points clear of the second-place St. Louis Ambush. The Wave are joined by the Dallas Sidekicks as the only two remaining teams in the division without a win.

This is just the fourth time the Comets have started the season with four consecutive wins, previously starting 4-0 in 2012/13, going undefeated with a 20-0 record in the 2014/15 regular season and most recently starting 7-0 in 2015/16.

“Our goal is to play as a team,” Comets player-coach Leo Gibson said. “Whether we win or not, just play as a team. Let the ball do the work for us and just keep it simple.”

Wednesday's six-goal win was KC’s largest win over Milwaukee since beating the Wave 11-4 in November 2016. That was also the last time the Comets scored double-digits against the Wave.

After scoring an early goal, the Comets were able to keep reigning MASL MVP Ian Bennett in check, holding him to just three other shots and only one shot in the second half.

“Ian’s a prolific scorer,” Gibson said. “I think we were very fortunate he couldn’t find the back of the net after that first goal. We played with defense, collectively and individually. That’s what helped us. It just wasn’t Ian. Keeping Milwaukee at four goals has to take team effort.”

The Comets and Wave meet again on Friday, Dec. 31 for Milwaukee’s home opener at 3 p.m. CST on MASLtv.