The Kansas City Comets earned their first road win and improved their record to 3-0 with a 7-3 win over the Harrisburg Heat Saturday. The Comets now sit alone in first place in the MASL Eastern Division.
Head coach Stefan Stokic was happy his team earned their first road win under his leadership. When asked about the win, Stokic replied, “I just told the boys in the locker room, this was a huge win on the road, a statement. Keeping a team at home under four goals is unbelievable. We proved in the first two games, we showed we can play two games in a row well, and now we’ve shown that we can play on the road as well.”
“With that statement we’ve shown we can be competing for a championship,” Stokic added.
The match was Harrisburg’s home opener for the season after narrowly losing on the road at Utica City FC. The Heat used the home excitement to pounce on a poor clearance from the Comets and take a 1-0 lead halfway through the first quarter. Former Comet attacker Dominic Francis knocked it in from close range.
The Comets did not allow the Heat to have a lead for long. It only took eighty seconds for Lucas Sousa to respond and level the score after his first shot was blocked he knocked it home. Three minutes later the Comets again refused to be denied when Rian Marques had been knocked down but still controlled the ball and put a shot in the net from the floor.
Kansas City built the lead in the second quarter when Nacho Flores stuffed a Heat player and Zach Reget slammed the ball into the upper corner for his first of the evening. The Comets went into halftime up 3-1.
“After the first quarter, the energy and the way we stepped up and we pressured was the difference in this game,” Stokic stated.
That pressure earned Reget a second goal when he pressured Harrisburg into a bad back pass as the goalie was moving away from the box. The Harrisburg mistake gave Kansas City a short lived three goal advantage.
Harrisburg closed the gap when Robert Williamson found himself with the ball all alone outside the Kansas City goal area to make it 4-2.
The Comets went right back on the attack and quickly scored again. Reget’s shot went wide but rookie Mikey Lenis pounded the rebound off the wall into the net. It was the rookie’s first career goal. When asked what Lenis has brought in his first three games, Stokic responded, “He’s had a great impact with his energy and his quality. He’s still learning the game and I’m really happy for him to get that first goal and I’m hoping for many more.”
Christian Anderaos was the next player rewarded for his hard work when he forced a turnover. Nacho’s resulting shot was blocked off the goal line, but Anderaos was there to knock it in, making it 6-2 after three quarters.
The teams traded goals in the fourth quarter. Danny DiPrima scored but Reget responded against the sixth attacker to seal the scoring and give the Kansas City a 7-3 win.
The Comets outshot the home side 40-26. Neto only made 15 saves compared to the Heat’s Grant Glorioso with 25 but Neto came up big on some key saves to keep Harrisburg from gaining any momentum. A strengthened defense has helped but Neto’s play in goal has been a significant factor in the early season success. The Comets have not allowed an opponent to score more than three goals (9-3, 7-2, and 7-3) so far this season.
“If we want to be a championship team we have to be able to win games and not concede much. Even the goals that we got scored on could have been avoided as well but that’s indoor soccer. The boys are doing great defensively and I think it’s huge for us keeping these teams under four goals,” Stokic explained.
“The way we played out of the back and beat their pressure was really good tonight,” Stokic added. “The only thing is we didn’t finish in the final half with it.”
1st – HAR Francis (DiPrima) 8:40; KC Sousa 9:59; KC Marques (Sosa) 13:07. Penalties – None.
2nd – KC Reget (Flores) 6:48. Penalties – None.
3rd – KC Reget 5:24; HAR Williamson (Ramirez) 6:57; KC Lenis (Reget) 7:13; KC Anderaos 11:09. Penalties – KC Hollimon (bc – boarding) 2:16; HAR Team (yc – bench misconduct) 2:16.
4th – HAR DiPrima 12:09; KC Reget (Ro. Palmer) 12:46. Penalties – KC Ro. Palmer (bc – tripping) 7:33; HAR Francis (yc – dissent) 11:34.