by Pat Clifton

KANSAS CITY (Dec. 31, 2019) – The Kansas City Comets fell to the St. Louis Ambush, 7-6, Saturday at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo. The loss drops the Comets to 3-4 on the season and 1-2 in the 2019/2020 I-70 Series. The win makes four in a row for the Ambush, who started the season with four losses.

So far, the home teams are undefeated between St. Louis and Kansas City in the 2019/2020 campaign, with a level goal differential. The Ambush bested the Comets by a single goal in each of their home wins, and the Comets beat the Ambush by two in Kansas City.

The visitors started out on the front foot, scoring two goals in the opening three minutes. Ray Saari scored the first, sliding a ball around the left corner wall and past St. Louis goalie Paulo Nascimento near-post.

The second was created by Saari but finished by head coach Leo Gibson. Saari blasted two shots off the wall, the second bouncing directly to Gibson’s feet, and he blasted the ball into the back of the net.

St. Louis responded with a run of its own, tying the game midway through the opening quarter. Tony Walls scored both, gathering two of his own rebounds and scoring off the latter for the first goal. The second goal came off a rebound as well, this one the result of a Pablo Da Silva shot.

Kansas City regained the lead in the final minute of the quarter. A Gibson shot bounced off the boards to Robert Palmer, who played a high ball to Saari. He volleyed it back to Palmer off his heel, and Palmer finished the play.

St. Louis’ third goal was the result of some sloppy defense by the Comets. They failed to clear their end after some errant Ambush shots, leaving the pressure on goalkeeper Lou Misner. With three Comets on the ground in the box, Da Silva scored from point-blank range to tie the game at 3-3.

Midway through the second quarter, Robert Kelly was sent off for two minutes for tripping. The infringement also gave the Ambush a penalty kick, which Misner saved. Seconds before the power play ended, the Comets ran short on defenders deep in their own end, and Douglas Dos Santos teed off from the corner to put the Ambush up 4-3 going into intermission.

The Ambush extended the lead six minutes into the second half. Stefan St. Louis beat Lee off the dribble and sent an assist across the box to Walls for his third goal of the night to make it 5-3.

Some acrobatic goalkeeping and frantic scramble defense by both teams kept the rest of the third quarter and the first four minutes of the final period scoreless, until the Comets were awarded a free kick just outside the St. Louis box. Gibson snuck a shot past the wall, over the carpet and into the back of the net to cut the deficit to one at 5-4.

St. Louis extended the lead again when Andre Braithwaite beat Lee in the corner and banked a shot off the near post and into the net. With six minutes to play, the Comets trailed 6-4.

With the sixth attacker on for the Comets, a fortuitous one-touch shot from Dos Santos from more than half the field away caught Kansas City off guard and put the Ambush up three goals in the final four minutes.

The Comets never quit, though, picking up consecutive goals by Gibson and Nacho Flores in the span of 30 seconds, making for a frenetic final two minutes. However, Kansas City’s onslaught of pressure and shots couldn’t yield the tying goal.