Former Kansas City Comets coach Vlatko Andonovski greeted Vahid Assadpour with a giant bear hug and wondered, rhetorically, who called the Comets captain old in the moments following the club’s regular-season finale at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
Andonovski predicted the score of Sunday’s game against Cedar Rapids in a pregame text. The 10-3 Comets victory nearly matched Andonovski’s 10-4 prognostication.
“Wow, you called it, huh,” Assadpour said with a grin. “You’re always doing that. All the time, you’re always right.”
Andonovski agreed, but not before mentioning that he failed to predict Assadpour’s four goals. Assadpour added one assist in one of the team’s most complete efforts of the season.
Kansas City (15-5) wrapped up the MASL Central Division title with the win, and finished the regular season by winning 10 of its last 11 games.
“I think we knew what was on the line. We’re still fighting, possibly, if things go well, to host the finals here,” Assadpour said. “We have to use our momentum to go through the first round of the playoffs first, but we see the vision.”
Defense has been the other portion of the Comets’ success down the stretch. Kansas City only allowed more than six goals once during the current hot streak — and it was in the lone loss.
Kansas City goalkeeper Stephen Patterson made 14 saves Sunday, and he also added his second goal of the season. A bench-clearing skirmish at the end of the third quarter led to two penalties on each team.
The fourth quarter started 3-on-3. Patterson brought the ball deep into the offensive zone with all the extra space, and decided to give it a go when Cedar Rapids decided not to pressure him.
“Nobody really gave me any directive beforehand, and then I got up on the other side of half… everybody just kind of stepped aside,” Patterson said. “So I gave it a couple of more touches and I ripped it, I guess. I wasn’t sure at first, because he was in excellent position to save it, but I guess I powered it through.”
Kansas City begins the postseason at home on March 9 against a familiar foe: Milwaukee. It was the Wave who broke the Comets’ nine-game winning streak on Feb. 18.
“Seven years in a row going into the playoffs, how can you not be tired of them,” Assadpour said. “But at the end of the day we need to get the job done. I think they have nightmares of us. That’s the way I would word it.”
Sunday’s effort was exactly what coach Goran Karadzov wanted to see heading into the postseason.
“We have players who compete here. The games we lost taught me a lot of lessons and taught them a lot of lessons,” Karadzov said. “It’s simply effort and covering the things that we needed to do better.”
Kansas City is looking to add its second title, and putting together hot streaks that cover half the season is what it will take to get it done.
“We changed our mentality and started thinking it’s not OK to win one game, lose one game,” Assadpour said. “That’s what championship teams do, they stay consistent throughout.”