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Comets crumble in second half of both California matchups

KC was outscored 11-2 in the second half this weekend.

Thad Bell

It was a tough road trip to California for the Kansas City Comets as they dropped both games this weekend.

It began with an 8-3 loss to the San Diego Sockers on Friday before an 8-5 loss to the Ontario Fury. KC’s struggles were not helped by the absences of five players, including player-coach Leo Gibson due to the birth of his child.

Jumping out to an early lead in both matchups, it was the second half that caused all the problems for the Comets. KC ended the weekend beating their opponent 6-5 in the first half while being outscored 11-2 in the second half.

Beginning with Friday’s matchup between the league’s top two teams, KC’s Lucas Sousa scored the game’s only first-quarter goal. San Diego tied it before Rian Marques restored KC’s lead. Brandon Escoto scored his first of the night in the final minutes before halftime to draw level at 2-2.

The Sockers added four goals in the third period to go ahead 6-2 with 15 minutes left. The hosts added a couple more in the fourth to put San Diego ahead 8-2 as Escoto finished the night with four goals. Marques’ got his second of the night for KC inside the final minute to bring the final score to 8-3.

Friday’s matchup was overshadowed by the physical battle on the field throughout the fourth quarter. A total of 22 cards were handed out, 13 coming in the fourth quarter. Highlighting the cards were three red cards in the final minutes. Ramone Palmer and Nick McDonald were both was ejected for six fouls in a game. Former Comet Guerrero Pino was ejected for a headbutt.

Due to short numbers, longtime player and current assistant coach Stefan Stokic suited up for Sunday’s game, though he never got a shift. James Togbah also dressed, dealing with a left oblique strain, and never got in.

Sunday’s showdown got off to a promising start as goals from Marques and Adam James put KC ahead 2-0 in the first quarter. The Comets took a 4-3 lead into the locker room after Ray Lee ended his four-game scoreless streak before Ali Sodal added his third of the year.

The Fury went on a three-goal tear in under a minute early in the second half to take a 5-4 lead. Ontario added three more to score six unanswered and extend their lead to 8-4 as former Comet Robert Palmer finished with a brace. With under a minute remaining Ignacio Flores scored his fifth of the season, cutting the final score to 8-5.

The Comets (10-4-1; 32 points) still maintain control of the Central Division with an eight-point lead over the second-place Dallas Sidekicks (8-7-1; 24 points).

Lou Misner had a career-high 20 saves in Sunday’s loss. John Sosa’s three assists this road trip brings him to a league-leading 21 this season as the veteran defender also now leads the Comets with 32 points.

The Comets will look for a response next week in a home-and-home series with Dallas. Kansas City hosts game one on Friday, March 4 before the return leg on Sunday, March 6 in Dallas.