by Pat Clifton

KANSAS CITY (Jan. 17, 2020) - The Kansas City Comets overcame a five-goal, second-half deficit to beat the defending champion Milwaukee Wave 9-8 Friday at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. Seven-straight goals and a stellar debut performance for rookie goalkeeper Nicolau Neto delivered the Comets consecutive wins for the first time this season. 

The Comets dominated the run of play the entire game, despite falling behind early and having to play catch up most of the night. Kansas City out-shot Milwaukee, 47-23.

The Wave got on the board in the opening minute of the game when the Comets scored an own-goal. Kansas City's debutant keeper was penalized just outside the box. Off the set-piece play, the ball deflected off the foot of John Sosa and into the net, giving Milwaukee the 1-0 lead. 

The Comets found themselves on the wrong side of the whistle most of the first half, and Milwaukee took advantage. The Wave's second, third and fourth goals were the direct results of penalties. 

First Matt Lewis was taken down in the corner and warned for embellishment. Milwaukee scored on the set piece. Then Stefan Stokic was sent off for two minutes for a slide tackle from which he won the ball, and the Wave scored at the tail end of the power play. 

The Comets stopped the bleeding with a goal five minutes into the second quarter. Leo Gibson blistered a pass off the boards to a charging Robert Palmer, who finished off Kansas City's first score. Seconds later, Ian Bennett scored off yet another penalty play, extending the Milwaukee lead to 4-1. 

The effort of Matt Lewis was rewarded two minutes later. He fired off a shot that resulted in the ball bouncing high in the attacking end. Max Ferdinand's attempt to settle it landed at the feet of Lewis, who scored with time and space to cut the deficit to 4-2. 

Milwaukee responded immediately with Bennett beating Neto off the boards for his third goal of the half. With under five minutes to play in the second quarter, Milwaukee led 5-2. 

Right on halftime, Nacho Flores was issued a mysterious blue card while shooting, giving Milwaukee a power play to start the second half. As the two minutes expired, Neto made a diving save, but the Wave scored off the rebound. Seconds later, Bennett scored his fourth goal of the night, extending Milwaukee's lead to 7-2. 

The Wave received their first blue card of the game midway through the third quarter, and Gibson got one goal back thanks to the assist from Ray Lee. Seconds later, it was Gibson doing the assisting, posting up with his back to the net and feeding Lucas. The consecutive quick strikes cut Milwaukee's lead to three at 7-4 midway through the third quarter. 

The Comets kept it rolling four minutes later when Kiel Williams found a crease in the defense and scored from well outside the box off an assist from John Sosa. Going into the fourth quarter, the Comets trailed by just two. 

The onslaught continued through intermission, with Kevin Ellis scoring off his own rebound to narrow the deficit to one. Gibson then helped make it level with a beautiful bounce pass to Ellis off the boards. The reigning MASL Player of the Week nutmegged Rafa Dias, the top-rated keeper in the league, to tie the game at 7-7. 

The Comets made it seven-straight goals with a pair in quick succession. Neto, the rookie, made his first pro assist by lofting a ball perfectly to the feet of Lee, who spun and scored to give Kansas City its fist lead of the game. Seconds later, Palmer and Stokic connected on a give-and-go, with Palmer extending the lead to 9-7. 

The Wave kept fans in their seats with a goal with 1:38 left in the game, cutting the deficit to one. But the Comets stymied Milwaukee's rally, securing the win.