There was a time, some 30 years ago, when professional indoor soccer had a firm grip on Kansas City.
Thousands flocked to Kemper Arena. A fog machine and laser lights added flair to the pregame introductions.Giorgio Moroder’s
“Chase” thumped from the speakers. And the then-Kansas City Comets were perennial playoff contenders.
Some things have changed.
The team is now the Missouri Comets, and calls the Independence Events Center home. The KC Cauldron shows its support with drums, chants and the occasional trumpet solo. Immediately next to it is the Galaxy Girls, a female dance team.
The logo at midfield is the same, though. The Comets still come out through fog. “Chase” still thumps, and the Comets can still play some soccer.
Missouri proved as much Thursday night, despite a 12-10 overtime loss to the Milwaukee Wave in the first game of the MISL semifinals in front of an announced crowd of 3,889.
Missouri is making its third playoff appearance in as many seasons since returning to the MISL, and has been eliminated by Milwaukee the past two years. The Wave, 22-5, are a thorn in Missouri’s side, and they proved why Thursday.
+ At the 8:48 mark of the first overtime period, Milwaukee’s Giuliano Olivero
got the ball on the right side of the penalty area and tucked a nifty shot under the crossbar to win the game for the Wave. It was his third goal of the game.
The start of the Thursday’s game was delayed some 30 minutes to repair a broken piece of glass over one of the goals.
Once the game finally started, Missouri jumped to a 10-0 lead, doing most of its damage over a six-minute span overlapping the first and second quarters.Jeff Hughes
picked up assists on two of the first three goals before finishing off a power play goal with a nifty header of his own.
Five different Comets scored, and Hughes led the team with four points.
The Comets, 13-14, seemed well on their way to a win whenRamone Palmer
scored to put his team up 10-0 early in the third.
Milwaukee didn’t fold. The Wave pulled within two with seven minutes to play. They nearly equalized a few minutes later when a shot pinballed between the crossbar and the turf without going into the net.
Comets goalkeeperDanny Woltman
corralled the ball, kissed his hand and tapped the crossbar after that sequence. It was a short-lived reprieve.
Milwaukee, with a sixth attacker, tied the game with 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter when Brazilian forwardHewerton
capped off a hat trick by stuffing home a point-blank rebound.
Missouri was barely hanging on in overtime before Olivero silenced the crowd with his game-winning goal.
All Hughes could do afterward was shake his head and wonder how the game had gotten away.
“You wish you had the answer to that. When you’re playing in a game like this and you’re playing in this environment, a little mistake adds up. The small things add up. We got to out to a good lead. Momentum. When it’s going for you, it’s great. But then it’s 10-2, 10-6, we tried to do our best to kill the game and put it away, but we didn’t finish our chances. They got theirs, which makes for the result it came out to be,” Hughes said.
Missouri will need to win in Milwaukee to extend its season. The bad news is the Wave have only lost once at home all season. The good news is that loss was to the Comets back on Nov. 11.
“In a game of this magnitude and at this level, mistakes are exponentially worse. We’ve got to came out with the same focus we had in the first half and the same energy throughout the 60 minutes,” Hughes said.
Now the Comets know that no lead is big enough.