Comets looking to clinch series against Utica City

by Nathan Dunn

Kansas City Comets vs Utica City FC

MASL Ron Newman Cup Playoffs — Game 2 of Conference Semifinals

Monday, April 15 — 5:05 p.m. CT

Where | Adirondack Bank Center - Utica, New York

Watch | CBS Sports Golazo Network

The Kansas City Comets are looking to book their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday when they visit Utica City FC for Game 2 of the Conference Semifinals.

The Comets have a 1-0 lead in the series, but they will face a challenging task in defeating a UCFC team playing to extend their lives. If the Comets lose Game 2, the series will be decided by a 15-minute Knockout Game.

Game 1 of the series was surprisingly low-scoring. Despite two offenses that finished the season scoring double-digits in each of their final three games, putting the ball in the back of the net was a struggle in the playoff opener.

The Comets took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter and led 4-1 at halftime. That was all the offense KC could manage as UCFC took the initiative to level the match at 4-4 early in the fourth. The scoring drought concluded when Nacho Flores scored the golden goal in overtime to win it.

Against teams in the playoffs including Game 1, the Comets are 6-8 with six of those losses coming in the team's brutal eight-game losing streak. Stefan Stokic managed his first playoff win as Comets head coach.

The Comets' success has stemmed from numerous players stepping up in critical times. Golden Boot co-winner Zach Reget, MASL blocks leader Robert Palmer and Goalkeeper of the Year candidate Nicolau Neto have been among the best alongside Flores as captain.

KC now enters the league's most intimidating atmosphere that isn't named Cable Dahmer Arena. The Comets lost their last two visits to Adirondack Bank Center, including last season's Eastern Conference Play-In game with a 7-6 overtime loss and a 7-3 defeat in January. KC went 6-5-1 away from home, the team's best road record since 2018-19.

UCFC made the most of their home field advantage with a 10-1-1 record. Only the undefeated Monterrey Flash had a better record on home turf.

Utica City FC enters Game 2 without some integral figures to this season's success. They will be missing head coach Hewerton Moreira as well as scoring monsters Franck Tayou and Nilton de Andrade as they represent the United States at the 2024 Concacaf Futsal Championship in Nicaragua.

While missing two critical players, UCFC will welcome in Kelvin Oliveira. The highly touted futsal veteran will make his home debut after impressing with two goals and an assist on his UCFC debut in Game 1.

Andrew Coughlin came up big for UCFC in Game 1 with 19 saves but will look for more offensive support in Game 2. Mohamed Ndiaye was alo pivotal with a goal, two assists and two blocks in Game 1.

The game will be broadcast exclusively on CBS Sports Golazo Network featuring Comets color commentator Erik Bergrud, who will join Utica's Ray Biggs for the first-ever Ron Newman Cup Playoff game on the platform.