It was a near-perfect script on a historic night for Kansas City indoor soccer as Leo Gibson became the all-time leading scorer in Kansas City indoor soccer history as the Comets edged out the Milwaukee Wave 8-6 on Friday, March 11.
On a night when the Kansas City Comets welcomed back alumni from the Kansas City Attack and unveiled the Attack’s banner to remember the team’s NPSL championships in 1993 and 1997, Comets legendary player-coach Leo Gibson scored twice to overtake Wes Wade’s record for most goals in KC indoor history.
As for the game itself, it wasn’t bad either. The Comets ended up edging out the Wave in a decisive fourth quarter to secure a spot in the playoffs.
Combined, both teams were missing 13 players between injuries and suspension. The Comets were able to add a couple of reinforcements ahead of Friday’s matchup with Benji Monreal finally gaining visa clearance and emergency signing Steven Hamersky stepping in to give Nicolau Neto and Lou Misner much-needed rest as they recover from injuries.
The first half was dominated by two players doing what they do best. For Milwaukee, it was a typical Ian Bennett display as he scored to put the Wave ahead 1-0 five minutes in. Facing a 2-1 deficit, Bennett added his second on the power play with 5 minutes, 29 seconds left in the first half.
For the Comets, it was all about John Sosa’s precision and taking advantage of Milwaukee's mistakes from restarts. Sosa recorded a first-half hat trick with three goals from restarts as the Comets entered halftime up 3-2. Additionally, this brilliant piece of skill from Gibson was sensational.
Milwaukee’s Kyle Crain leveled the score at 3-3 early in the third period before Mirko Sandivari’s effort put KC ahead 4-3 just 34 seconds later. Then the Wave came storming back with goals from Gordy Gurson and Javier Steinwasher to put the visitors ahead 5-4. With 6.9 seconds remaining, Nick McDonald scored his third of the year to make it 5-5.
Bennett finished off his hat trick to put the Wave up 6-5 early in the fourth. Once again, the Comets had a quick answer 31 seconds later as Gibson’s first of the night leveled the score and his record with Wade.
Leo Gibson of the @KCComets with #Wallascora against the @MilwaukeeWave Goal #280 for Leo tying him for the most goals in Kansas City indoor soccer professional history. @NickVasos & @erikbergrud with the call. pic.twitter.com/0F2NCWVcm7— Wallascora (@Wallascora) March 12, 2022
Monreal scored his first MASL goal with the game-winner after an aggressive tackle stole the ball from Milwaukee before rifling a shot past the keeper. Gibson’s record-breaking goal No. 281 of his Comets career came with 2 minutes, 49 seconds remaining as he perfectly executed an empty net effort from well inside his defensive half against the 6th attacker.
Friday’s win not only secured the Comets a playoff spot, but it also secured their first season series win over the Wave since 2015/16 as KC leads the series this season 4-1 with one meeting remaining in Milwaukee on March 27.
The Comets (12-5-1; 38 points) are now 11 points clear of the second-place Dallas Sidekicks in the Central Division. Sosa’s phenomenal season continued as his third goal was his 14th of the season- a career-high.
The script for Gibson’s record-breaking performance was even more dramatic since all three head coaches he played under with the Comets (Kim Roentved, Vlatko Andonovski and Goran Karadjov) were at the game. The only thing missing was the presence of his wife, though he said he could feel her presence watching from home.
Speaking after the game, a humbled Gibson credited his teammates and the trio of head coaches that preceded him and set him up for so much success.
“The way they designed stuff to put me in a position to be successful,” Gibson said.
While Gibson and Sosa were the stars of the show, Monreal also shined in his MASL debut as highlighted by his game-winning goal.
“From the beginning of the game I was kind of nervous,” Monreal said. “With this opportunity, I was super excited. Your teammates support you and understand. But as the game keeps going you get confidence.”
For the Wave, Bennett was back to his old self at Cable Dahmer Arena with another hat trick as the Milwaukee legend surpassed a century of goals against the Comets.
One more Comets stat that likely won't make the stat rundown tomorrow. If my numbers are right Bennett's 3rd goal was his 100th against the Comets in all competitions. Only 3 whole teams have scored more against KC (St. Louis, Milwaukee, Baltimore)— Mike (@downthebyline) March 12, 2022
Signing with the Comets for the fourth time of his career, Hamersky is glad to be back with the team to help out for a couple of games until Neto is able to get back healthy.
“They're a great team, a great organization,” Hamersky said. “It's great to see a lot of old friends.”
On loan from the Wichita Wings in M2, Hamersky last played for the Comets in December 2019. Picking up his third win with the Comets, he recorded 10 saves in Friday’s win.
With a taste of both the MASL and M2, Hamersky believes there is a significant difference between the two levels of indoor soccer.
“The style is completely different,” he said. “There is a lot more organization and it's a lot faster. It’s nice to get readjusted.”
Hamersky will continue his loan spell with the Comets when they host Dallas on Sunday, March 20.