A playoff birth that seemed like only a dream a month ago now appears very possible. The Comets, in last place on Feb 6th now have a one game advantage for the final MISL playoff spot after defeating the Chicago Riot 18-12 Sunday afternoon at the Independence Events Center. The win is the Comets’ fourth in a row.
The Comets took what seemed like a comfortable a eight point lead into halftime, only to see the lead disappear in the 3rd period. After gaining their composure and settling down, the Comets went another scoring binge to close out the game.
Byron Alvarez, making a case for Offensive Player of the Year in the MISL, and already named Player of the Week for his performance last week, continued his incredible scoring spree by netting four goals to go along with an assist for nine points on the afternoon.
As has been the story all season long, it was Alvarez getting the scoring started for the Comets. On a long pass from Leo Gibson, Alvarez, running with a Riot defender, stopped mid-stride, pulled the ball back, then launched it past Riot keeper Jeff Richey to give the Comets an early 2-0 lead. The goal was Alvarez’s 30th of the season. The Riot would tie things up four minutes later on a restart goal by Miki Djerisilo, and the period would end with the score tied 2-2.
Three minutes into the 2nd period, it was Alvarez continuing his scoring ways with a half-volley shot off a Brian Harris pass in front of the goal to give the Comets the lead 4-2. At the 8:53 mark, it was Alvarez again with a shot past Richey to give him a first half-hat trick and the Comets a 6-2 lead. On a Comets breakaway midway into the period, it was Mirad Dzilic firing one past Richey off a long outlet pass from Brian Harris. For Dzilic, it was his second goal of the season. Riot keeper, Jeff Richey didn’t appreciate the Comets scoring tear and was given a yellow card for misconduct.
Jamar Beasley finished the scoring with 40 seconds remaining in the half for the Comets after his first shot was deflected by Richey, then Vahid Assadpour corralled it, got it back to Beasley, who quickly put it past Richey to give the Comets the lead at half 10-2.
The Riot, who appeared to be dead in the water, responded by doing all the scoring in the 3rd period, netting four unanswered goals. First is was Alex Megson 43 seconds into the period, followed by Fred Degand two minutes later on an own-goal off the foot of Vahid Assadpour. At 6:48, it was Bato Radoncic unassisted on a rocket from the right side that made it past Comets goalie, Danny Waltman and into the upper left corner of the net. The Riot scoring flurry continued with Radonic again launching a shot past a diving Waltman to tie the game at 10 apiece.
The Comets finally stopped the bleeding 40 seconds into the 4th period. On a flick-pass at midfield from Byron Alvarez, it was a streaking Lucas Rodriguez sneaking one past Richey to give the Comets the lead back 12-10. Adding to his ever-growing point total, it was Alvarez getting the ball on the right side of the goal from Jamie Harding. In a near-replay of his first goal of the day, Alvarez stopped the ball, pulled it back as the defender went by, then sent it past Richey to extend the Comets’ lead to 14-10. The goal was Alvarez’s 4th on the day and 33rd on the season, extending his MISL scoring lead over Marco Terminisi of Milwaukee, who resides in second. Alvarez’s hat trick was his fifth of the season, which also leads the league.
With Richey pulled for a 6th attacker, Jamar Beasley and Stefan Stokic each scored late goals to put the game away for the Comets. With 19 seconds left in the game, it was Radonic scoring again for the Riot. Final score: Comets 18, Riot 12.
In a game that appeared to be put away at halftime, Chicago’s comeback didn’t come as a surprise the Comets Head Coach, Kim Roentved. “With Chicago’s pride and experience, I knew they weren’t going to go away,” he said. “After the 3rd quarter, I just had to remind the guys how well we played in the first half, and they responded with a terrific team effort.”
The Comets, now 8-11, play their final regular season game a week from today at Baltimore against the first place Blast at 5:05 p.m. With Omaha getting shut out 21-0 Friday night at home by Milwaukee, the Comets now own a one game lead over the Vipers for the final playoff spot. Omaha will now travel to Milwaukee to play the Wave, also next Sunday.