by Pat Clifton

KANSAS CITY (Dec. 21, 2019) – The Kansas City Comets picked up their first road win of the season, beating the Mesquite Outlaws 5-4 Saturday night. Kansas City trailed most of the contest, including 3-1 at the end of the third quarter. The Comets took their first lead at 4-3, and Ray Saari scored the game winner in the final minute of the contest.

The win sees the Comets back to .500 at 2-2, and it drops the Outlaws to 1-2. The Comets are right back at it Sunday at the 0-4 Dallas Sidekicks, and Thursday the crosstown rival Sidekicks and Outlaws meet for the second time ever.

Mesquite opened scoring with an early goal from Rio Ramirez. He played the ball off the wall with a one-touch rocket in to back of the net. Comets goalkeeper Mark Saxby would have an impressive first half, though, racking up several impressive saves.

Adam James led the Comets attack, getting several shots off, though none found pay dirt. The Comets scrambled well in defense and sustained several long periods of attack. Saxby came up limping on the final save of the quarter but didn’t leave the game.

Mesquite goalkeeper Eduardo Cortes and Saxby traded incredible saves throughout much of the second quarter. The highlight came from Saxby, when Gibson turned the ball over in the attacking end, creating a 2-on-none. The goalie kept his feet through the initial threat and deflected the eventual shot.

Leo Gibson finally broke the defensive streak just before the end of the half. He had his back to the goal in the right corner and beat Cortes near-post from an impossible angle to tie the game at 1-1. That’s how the half would end, with the Comets out-shooting the Outlaws, 15-12, and Saxby having two more saves than Cortes.

The Comets picked up overlapping blue cards in the third period, with Mirko Sandivari being sent off first. Just before that power play was killed, Ray Lee was shown another blue, leaving Kansas City down two men. Impressive scramble defense and goalkeeping staved off the Outlaw onslaught during the never-ending power play.

Vcmore Eligwe broke the stalemate late in the third quarter. He found a slice of space while dribbling quickly up the right flank, burying a shot in the upper-right corner. Then Cody Ellis scored off a rebound, going over the top of Saxby to put the Outlaws up 3-1 at the end of the quarter.

Early in the fourth, the Comets cut the deficit in half. Leo Gibson played a ball across the box and it was deflected right to the foot of Mirko Sandivari, who scorched the ball into the corner. Gui Gomes scored seconds later, beating Cortes off a two-on-one to tie the game at 3-3.

The Comets took their first lead of the game after some sustained pressure in the attacking end. Ray Lee squeezed off a couple of shots during the foray, the last ending with the go-ahead goal. Robert Williams found Gibson in the left corner, who led Lee perfectly into the box for the score. Midway through the final quarter, Kansas City led 4-3.

The lead was short lived, as Mike Jones took successive shots on Saxby on the back of a nice run. Saxby went to the ground to save the first shot, it bounced off the wall to Jones’ feet, and he tickled the empty net.    

With the game seeming destined for sudden death, the Comets attacked with purpose. Their only two losses this season came in overtime on the road, and they were tied at 4-4 late in the fourth quarter. Ray Saari and Kiel Williams executed a give-and-go perfectly, with Saari burying the game winner in the final minute of the game.