Comets visit Utica for play-in game

by Nathan Dunn

Kansas City Comets @ Utica City FC

MASL Eastern Conference Play-In Game

Monday, April 10 — 5:05 p.m. CDT

Where | Adirondack Bank Center - Utica, New York

Radio | ESPN Kansas City 1510 AM; 94.5 FM

Stream |

The Kansas City Comets kickstart their 2023 Ron Newman Cup Playoff campaign with an Eastern Conference Play-In matchup on the road against Utica City FC on Monday, April 10.

Monday’s win-or-go-home play-in game opens the Comets’ third consecutive MASL playoff appearance. They fell in the semifinals the previous two seasons, losing the 15-minute knockout game both years to fall just short of reaching the Finals. The Comets are hoping the new playoff format this year brings better luck to win a league championship for the first time since 2014 and take home the Ron Newman Cup for their very first time.

The Comets’ up-and-down regular season campaign ended with a record of 11-9-4, but are coming from back-to-back wins over the Harrisburg Heat.

Zach Reget tied his career-high of 27 goals throughout the regular season, 12 of which have come since his February trade to the Comets. Reget is joined by Lucas Sousa, John Sosa and Leo Gibson as the Comets’ offensive leaders that tallied a combined 139 points in the regular season. The fantastic five will look to exploit the second-worst defensive team in the Eastern Conference on Monday evening.

The Comets will be without James Togbah (concussion protocol) and Steven Tekesky (left thumb fracture). Those probable include Rian Marques (right ankle sprain), Nacho Flores (right shoulder dislocation), Henry Ramirez (left hamstring strain) and Ali Sodal (right shoulder nerve contusion).

While Comets road wins were hard to come by for much of the season, they ended the season strong by winning two of their final three away trips as they snagged victories in Harrisburg and Milwaukee. They ended the regular season 3-6-3 on the road.

The Comets are typically good on blue turf, but that blue turf is usually sitting inside the warm confines of Cable Dahmer Arena. The blue turf of Adirondack Bank Center in Utica isn’t so familiar, though the Comets did win in come-from-behind fashion in 2020 when they overturned a four-goal deficit in the fourth quarter for an overtime victory. Utica was tough but beatable at home this year, finishing the regular season with a record of 8-3-1.

While Utica and the Comets don’t see each other often, there are several Utica personnel very familiar with the Comets. It starts with head coach Hewerton Moreira, an indoor veteran who played against the Comets as a member of the Milwaukee Wave, Chicago Mustangs, Cedar Rapids Rampage and St. Louis Ambush. In his first season as Utica head coach, Moreira led Utica to the playoffs after missing the postseason last year.

Gordy Gurson is another name familiar to the Comets as he has previously played for St. Louis, Cedar Rapids, Milwaukee and the Florida Tropics among others. Gurson led  Utica during the regular season with 41 points from a well-balanced output of 22 goals and 19 assists.

Utica’s last line of defense is goalkeeper Andrew Coughlin, who had a record of 13-9-1 and has also become an offensive asset with a career-high 10 assists in the regular season.

Utica faced some defensive issues throughout the regular season, conceding 153 goals in 24 games, but they have been rolling since early March and won five of their final six games. Utica’s only loss in the last month was a 5-4 loss at home to Harrisburg on March 19.

Utica will be without forward Tim Goldman while forward Bo Jelavac is questionable.

If the Comets manage to win in Utica, they will have a quick turnaround against top-seeded Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Game 1 would be in Milwaukee on Thursday, April 13 and Game 2 would be back at home inside Cable Dahmer Arena on Monday, April 17.