by Pat Clifton

KANSAS CITY (Jan. 20, 2020) – The Kansas City Comets fell to the Milwaukee Wave Monday, 7-6, in overtime at UW-Milwaukee Panthers Arena. The Comets were shorthanded, with six players out due to injury after having just one miss Friday’s comeback win over Milwaukee in Kansas City.

The loss drops the Comets to 5-6 on the season, good for fifth place, one spot behind the 7-3 Wave. Of Kansas City’s five road losses this season, three have come in overtime.

Monday’s started as neck-and-neck as Friday’s one-goal thriller finished. It took nearly 12 minutes for Milwaukee to break the opening stalemate, as rookie sensation Nicolau Neto flexed his muscle in Kansas City’s net and Milwaukee’s league-leading Rafa Dias was as stout as usual in the other goal.

After an onslaught of unsuccessful shots at Neto, Milwaukee rookie Mikey Herrera finally penetrated from the top of the arc, putting the Wave up 1-0.

Nearing the end of the first quarter, John Sosa was shown a blue card for an aggressive tackle. Some more impressive play from Neto saw Kansas City escape the power play unscathed, and seconds after KC being back to full strength, Ray Lee teed up from just inside the yellow line, blasting a left-footed shot into the back of the net.

The Comets’ next goal was a response to a blue card as well. Hector Solorio was penalized for taking down a Milwaukee player on the boards. Down a man, Kansas City struck through Robert Palmer to take the 2-1 lead. Matt Lewis played the ball to himself off the boards and then to Palmer for the goal.

Milwaukee would get the goal back during the power play. Luan Oliveira posted up Ray Lee in the arc, spun and beat Neto near-post for the leveling goal. In quick succession, the Wave regained the lead when Alex Bradley scored with his heel from right in front of the goal.

The Comets finished the half on attack, with Dias saving a Lee shot at the buzzer to preserve the 3-2 lead for Milwaukee going into intermission.

The Comets drew level at the onset of the second half. They were awarded a free kick at the top of Milwaukee’s arc, and John Sosa drilled home a goal from the set piece, tying the game at 3-3. Halfway through the third quarter, with the Wave missing one to the penalty box, Leo Gibson banged home the go-ahead. Matt Lewis assisted, putting the Comets up 4-3.

Milwaukee’s top scorer, Ian Bennett, responded a few minutes later to draw the game level again. Bradley fed him a pass off the boards and across the box, and Neto was only able to graze the shot with his glove tips. Going into the fourth quarter, the Comets and Wave were tied 4-4.

Ray Lee scored his second goal of the game to give Kansas City its second lead. He was given space to his left in transition, and he fired a rocket into the back of the net. The Comets led 5-4 with 12 minutes to play.

Milwaukee flipped the script with back-to-back goals near the 10-minute mark. First, Neto found himself on the floor with the ball in his hands. Then Max Ferdinand challenged him, Neto lost the ball, and Ferdinand fought it into the back of the net.

Bradley then got another goal to establish another Milwaukee lead. He camped out on the back post, and Isaac Pereyra spun around Sosa on the boards and threaded the assist. The score put Milwaukee up 6-5 with under 10 minutes to play.

Ray Saari brought the Comets right back with a display of persistence. He passed around Derek Huffman on the boards, fired a shot off them that also careened off the replacement keeper, and then poked the ball into the net for the tying goal. Regulation wouldn’t be enough, with the 6-6 tie needing overtime to be broken.

John Sosa picked up his second blue card of the game early for an aggressive slide tackle. Dogged defense by the Comets delivered a penalty kill, keeping the game tied through the power play.

20 seconds away from a penalty shootout, Milwaukee scored the game winner. Angel Curiel got the ball on the right flank, drew a Stokic slide and hesitated to freeze Gibson, giving himself the space to bury a shot in the top-shelf, near-post.

The Comets are back in action Sunday against the Rochester Lancers at 3:05 p.m. CST at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.