by Jeff Husted

KANSAS CITY (March 4, 2018) – The Kansas City Comets finished off their 2017-2018 campaign with a big 10-6 victory in front of 4,000+ fans at home tonight. Leo Gibson led all scorers with three goals and two assists, while captain Bryan Perez chipped in with a goal and two more assists.

After dropping their last two decisions in overtime, the Comets were eager to get out and finish their season strong. Head coach Kim Roentved’s lineup featured several young players who had fresh legs and were eager to show what they’ve learned this season.

The scoring started off five minutes into the opening quarter. Comets forward Anthony Grant took the ball across the middle and hit s shot that went high and bounced off the glass above the goal. Seeing the play develop, Gibson jumped into the middle and was in perfect position to head the ricochet back into the net.

Florida fought back and sent waves of players towards goal. In the ninth minute of the 1stquarter, Florida sent a shot towards goal that Saxby was able to dive at and keep out of the net. His deflection went right to another Tropics player who tried to score the rebound, but Saxby was there again to make the save. The third time was not as fortunate though as Saxby’s deflection fell right to Florida’s Freddy Moojen who easily tapped in the goal.

Kansas City youngsters stepped in at that point. Troy McKerrell provided the assist to Patrick Kelly to out the Comets back up a goal and then Mirko Sandivari scored his second goal of the season to give Kansas City a two-goal cushion late in the period. Florida scored a second goal just before the buzzer, but the Comets held onto their 3-2 advantage at the break.

The Tropics evened the score a minute into the second quarter. Determined not to regain the lead, the Comets began to pressure the Tropics defense all the way up the field. Midway through the quarter, Gibson was able to step in front of a Florida player and pass to a wide open Kiel Williams. As Williams was preparing to shoot, goalkeeper Piotr Sliwa slid in and took him out.

Captain Bryan Perez converted on the resulting shootout attempt to regain the lead for the Comets 4-2. Perez would have another shootout attempt later in the period, when Sliwa made a diving hand save out of the box. Unfortunately, Perez was unable to give the Comets another two-goal cushion and Florida scored another time before the half, sending both teams to the locker rooms with four goals each.

The Tropics jumped out on the Comets to begin the second half. First, Ricardo Diegues thought he was wide open in front of Saxby and tried to lob a header over him, as the Comets goalkeeper reached to grab it, Guerrero Pino came it to try and clear it away. The mix-up resulted in neither player getting it and the ball found the back of the net.

Next, Diegues was able to find Raphael Schlemper on the Comets backpost for a shot. Saxby made the initial save, but an unfortunate bounce gave it right back to Schlemper and the Tropics took a 6-4 lead with 10:23 left to play in the third quarter.

Kansas City turned their game around completely following that score. They rattled off the next 6 goals of the game, four of them coming in the final six and a half minutes of the third quarter.

Kiel Williams scored on a goal from Leo Gibson with 6:16 seconds left, then Williams returned the favor for a Gibson goal 20 seconds later. With the score now tied, Kansas City continued to put their foot on the gas. Anthony Grant put the Comets ahead after rookie Tim Kloster won the ball at midfield and outmuscled his defender to the right side, leaving Grant alone for the easy tap-in.

Gibson finished off his hat trick a minute after Grant’s goal to give the Comets an 8-6 lead heading into the final period.

Early in the fourth, Kansas City was awarded a restart opportunity from the top of the arc. Gibson ran towards the ball, seemingly lining up his shot, but at the last second dished to his right where Lucas Rodriguez was waiting and he did not disappoint, putting the Comets up 9-6 less than a minute into the quarter.

Following the goal, Florida’s Marco Rodriguez was ejected from the game for Misconduct.

While the Tropics tried to comeback several times, Saxby and the Comets defense stood tall. Adam James put the pin in the win with less than a minute to play. Initially, James received the ball at the right side of goal and tried to lay off a shooting opportunity to Nacho Flores. His shot was blocked however and James found himself with the rebound and an open goal.

With Kansas City now in the lead 10-6 and less than a minute on the clock, the Tropics waved the white flag and all parties congratulated each other on a hard-fought game.

The Comets finish their season 7-15. A disappointing record, but one that comes with a lot of promise in the future. Several young players showed immense growth throughout the season, and the Comets will look to improve and return to their championship ways in 2017-2018.

As the offseason begins, Kansas City will launch their Summer Youth Camp series in the next couple of weeks. Kids from all over the metro area will be able to learn from Player/Assistant Coach Leo Gibson, who also heads up the Comets Camp Program.

Stay tuned to KCComets.com and follow the Comets on social media for more information to come.