by Pete Richmire

INDEPENDENCE, MO. – The Comets (3-1-0) hosted Game One of their Ron Newman Cup Semifinal series with Florida and handed the Tropics (2-1) their first loss of the post-season in front of 3,058 fans at Cable Dahmer Arena Saturday night. Ray Lee netted a hat-trick for the Comets and Nicolau Neto won his third game of the post-season in goal.

Ray Lee kicked off the scoring with 8:16 to go in the first quarter. The Comets had a restart at the yellow line following a three-line pass violation on Tropics keeper Jorge Navarrete. The Tropics tried to clear a rebound on the initial shot but sent the ball directly to Lee on the right side and he promptly buried the ball into the opposite upper 90 for the lead.

The Comets doubled their advantage when Milos Vucic sent a pass to James Togbah, who was racing up the right boards on a counter-attack. With two defenders closing in, Togbah unleashed a shot from an incredible angle near the right corner which beat Navarrete for a 2-0 lead with 4:31 to play in the first.

In the final two minutes of the opening frame, the Tropics were able to draw the score back to even, first with a goal by Ricardinho Sobreira and then by Ricardo Diegues to send the game to the second quarter level.

The teams then combined for seven goals in the second quarter of tonight’s game. Kiel Williams scored the first of his three goals in the quarter to give the Tropics a 3-2 lead less than a minute into the frame.

Togbah launched a left-footed missile from the right side that deflected off Navarrete’s gloves for his second goal of the game to tie the score 3-3 with 10:04 to go until halftime.

Williams’ second goal put Florida back in front 4-3 about a minute after Togbah’s marker. The next two goals belonged to the Comets.

First, off a pass from Leo Gibson, lee executed two step-overs, and following a quick move to his right, he beat Navarrete top-shelf to level the game at 4-4 with 8:00 on the clock.

Off a restart, an area in which John Sosa has had significant success this season, Sosa sent a wall-pass to a wide-open Lucas Sousa on the left side for the tap-in goal to put the Comets back in front at 5-4 with 6:12 to play in the second.

Once again for the Tropics, it was Williams who picked up the next goal, on an assist by Diegues to knot the score 5-5 with 3:00 remaining. Diegues also assisted on the next goal, this one scored by Ricardo Carvalho to give Florida a 6-5 lead which they took to the locker room at the half.

To open second-half scoring, Gibson and Lee connected on a nifty give-and-go play that resulted in Lee’s third goal of the game and a 6-6 score with 11:32 to go in the third.

Florida came into the game a perfect 4-for-4 on the power play, and they got their first opportunity with the man advantage in the third quarter. With Togbah in the penalty box for boarding, Diegues connected with Reget to keep their extra-man streak alive and give the Tropics a 7-6 lead with 6:18 to go in the third.

Just 30 seconds later Comets forward Rian Marques fired a shot wide off the end boards. Lesia Thetsane was in the right place at the right time and sent the ball to the back of the net of a header to tie the game at 7-7.

In the fourth quarter, the Comets’ defense held on another Florida power play and stopped the Tropics streak at five. Then with 3:48 to play in regulation, Lee stole the ball to the right of Navarrete and fed a pass to Marques to convert on the game-winning goal for the Comets.

The series will now shift to the RP Funding Center in Lakeland Florida for Game Two, and if necessary, the 15-minute Extra-Time period on Saturday, April 23 at 5 pm CT. The game will be televised on the MASLtv Twitch channel

Game dates and times for the Ron Newman Cup Finals are expected to be released by the MASL after the conclusion of the Chihuahua vs San Diego series on April 24.


1st – KC Lee 6:44; KC Togbah (Vucic) 10:29; FLA Sobreira (Reget) 13:00; FLA Diegues (Carvalho) 14:25. Penalties – None.

2nd – FLA Williams (Reget) 0:53; KC Togbah (Lee) 4:56; FLA Williams (Reget) 5:59; KC Lee (Gibson) 7:00; KC Sousa (Sosa) 8:48; FLA Williams (Diegues) 11:56; FLA Carvalho (Diegues) 14:31. Penalties – None.

3rd – KC Lee (Gibson) 3:28; FLA Reget (Diegues) 8:42; KC Thetsane (Marques) 9:14. Penalties – KC Togbah (bc- boarding) 8:09; KC Marques (yc- dissent) 9:14; FLA Ruggles (bc- holding) 14:00.

4th – KC Marques (Lee) 11:12. Penalties – KC (bc- too many men) 3:56.

Power Play – Comets 0/1, Florida 1/2

Penalty Minutes – Comets 7, Florida 2

Shots – Comets 35, Dallas 38

Attendance – 3,058