by Pat Clifton

KANSAS CITY (Jan. 10, 2020) The Kansas City Comets got back to winnings ways in emphatic fashion Friday, pummeling the Orlando Seawolves 14-6. Kevin Ellis and Leo Gibson put on an offensive clinic, accounting for a combined seven goals and four assists. Ellis bagged a career-high five goals, while Gibson netted two and assisted on four.

The win ends a two-game losing streak for the Comets, improving their record to 4-5. The loss drops Orlando to 1-6.

Kiel Williams broke the stalemate after a scoreless opening eight minutes. He beat his opposite off the ball to buy space for the successful shot.

Orlando answered back with two quick goals to take its first lead of the game. First Rodolfo Lopes beat Mark Saxby near post, top shelf, and then former Comet Odaine Sinclair bodied the ball off Leo Gibson for an open shot. At the end of the first quarter, the Seawolves led 2-1.  

The Comets regained momentum when Gibson stole possession deep in the attacking end. Two passes later, Ray Lee launched a rocket from well outside the box to level the score at 2-2.

Orlando’s Rodrigo Kauffman scored to put the visitors up midway through the second quarter. He drew Saxby out of the box and was able to find space around him. The lead wouldn’t last long, as Williams nutmegged Orlando goalie Fernando Cortes to tie the game again.

Going into halftime, Gibson was fouled in the attacking end. Off the set piece, he teed up a perfect alley-oop to Kevin Ellis, who headed the ball into the back of the net, giving the Comets their second lead of the night, 4-3.

At the onset of the second half, Robert Kelly picked up his first career goal. Ray Lee set it up, teeing up a point-blank shot for Kelly. Shortly thereafter, Lee’s generosity was repaid, when Nacho Flores fed him his second goal of the night, pushing the lead to three.

Orlando got one back immediately. Sinclair continued to hurt his old team, soaking up defenders before assisting Daniel Jackson for Orlando’s first score of the second half. The goal cut Kansas City’s lead to 6-4.

Having set the bar high in the first half on goals from set pieces, Gibson and Ellis connected on another two-touch goal from an attacking penalty. This time Gibson played it to Ellis on the floor, and he flicked it behind him into the back of the net.

Ellis completed the hat-trick minutes later. Gibson fed Williams a header, and it bounced off the boards to Ellis. He missed off the wall to himself, twice, finally scoring from the seat of his pants off a volley to make it 8-4, Kansas City.

Flores got in on the scoring party with just under three minutes to play in the second half. He heel-poked a shot with his back to the goal past the keeper and off the post. Sinclair scrambled to keep it from crossing the threshold, but helped it in.

The Comets kept pouring on the pressure, and Orlando cracked. With Gibson having a nearly open goal, Sinclair earned a blue card for an intentional handball, preventing a sure score. Gibson made good on the ensuing penalty kick, sending Kansas City into double digits, 10-4.

Ellis wasn’t done, burying his fourth goal early in the fourth quarter. The Seawolves started the period down a man, picking up another blue card right at the end of the third. Just as the power play elapsed, Ellis pulled the trigger from deep.

Orlando got one back a minute later. Luis Mota settled a cross off his chest and put it past Saxby. The goal cut the Comet lead to 11-5.

Gibson and Ellis connected yet again midway through the fourth quarter, giving Gibson his fourth assist of the night and Ellis his fifth goal, one shy of Gibson’s career high. In the 55th minute, Orlando’s Jeff Michaud turned Flores around for his first goal of the night, putting Orlando’s deficit at six. Gibson brought it back at seven a minute later, scooping up a loose ball before launching from the top of the box – 13-6.

Kelly rounded out the scoring with his second goal of both the game and his career. Williams assisted.