Comets set to open Conference Semifinals against Utica City FC

by Nathan Dunn

Kansas City Comets vs Utica City FC

MASL Ron Newman Cup Playoffs — Game 1 of Conference Semifinals

Monday, April 8 — 6:30 p.m. CT

Where | Cable Dahmer Arena - Independence, Missouri 

Watch | 38 the Spot (local TV);

Listen | ESPN Kansas City

Tickets Ticketsmaster

No. 3 Kansas City Comets will open their playoff campaign on home turf against No. 2 Utica City FC in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Monday, April 8. The best-of-three series will wrap up in Utica, New York, the following Monday, April 15.

The series promises to be enthralling as both teams have built up a rivalry over the past year. Both sides meet in the opening round of the playoffs for the second straight year, following last year's 7-6 Play-In victory for UCFC.

The Comets ended the regular season red-hot with six straight wins, last losing on February 16 against Chihuahua. Against teams in the playoffs, the Comets went 5-8 with six of those losses coming in the team's brutal eight-game losing streak.

KC's offense heated up at the end of the season. They scored double-digit goals in each of their final three games after previously failing to score double-digits all season.

Zach Reget led the charge as he found his rhythm, scoring eight goals in the final three games. That was enough to secure a share of his first-career Golden Boot award with 35 goals throughout the season.

Much has changed since last year's postseason meeting. The Comets have added some critical pieces such as the defensive duo of Robert Palmer and Chad Vandegriffe, in addition to rookies Leo Acosta and Michael Lenis. At the top, Stefan Stokic has taken over as head coach.

UCFC took the season series 2-1, winning twice in January, including a 7-6 OT win at Cable Dahmer Arena. KC took the most recent clash, earning an 11-6 victory last month at home.

Utica City is led by head coach Hewerton Moreira.

UCFC is also much different from last year. They added four-time MASL MVP Franck Tayou and defender Mohamed Ndiaye, who have been key figures throughout the regular season. They also made the late-season signing of forward Kelvin Oliveira, who is eligible to make his MASL debut in the playoffs.

As the second-highest scoring team in the MASL with 191 goals, UCFC displayed a diverse scoring corps that included seven players with a minimum of 20 points. Tayou's 49 points from 30 goals and 19 assists and Nilton de Andrade's 41 points from 26 goals and 15 assists led the way.

Goalkeeper Andrew Coughlin is another pivotal player for UCFC. The Syracuse native set a career-high by stopping 72% of shots.

Utica City won three of their final four games but were shaky against better competition. Against teams qualified for the playoffs, UCFC went 3-6.

After Game 1, both teams will meet again for Game 2 in Utica on Monday, April 15. If the series is split after Game 2, both teams will play a 15-minute knockout game to decide who advances to the Eastern Conference Championship. Tickets for Game 1 are still available through Ticketmaster.