The Comets split the weekend road trip, winning in Baltimore 14-11 Saturday night before falling 17-8 in Rochester Sunday afternoon. The games really could not be much more different. The Comets played a very tough Baltimore team extremely well, playing equal or better in three of the four quarters and securing a win with timely scoring and tough defense in the fourth quarter. In Rochester the Comets came out sleepwalking and did not wake up until near the end when Rochester was taking their foot off the gas.
Comets 14 – 11 Baltimore
Coady Andrews got the Comets off to a good start Saturday night scoring less than two minutes into the game and then Leo Gibson kept up his strong play with a goal at the 6:42 mark. Baltimore came back with two goals in the first and a three pointer in the second to lead 7-4 at half.
Baltimore’s Mike Lookingland added to the lead in the third before the Comets started climbing their way back up. John Sosa scored and Gibson rounded out his hat trick while only allowing the Blast one more goal in the third.
The fourth belonged to the visitors from Missouri. Stefan St. Louis put one home just 19 seconds into the last quarter and Cristiano added one four and half minutes later. From then on, the Comets held off the Blast for the win.
“It was the most complete sixty minutes we have played all year in terms of tough defense, good battling in the midfield, certainly in the first quarter and then in the third and fourth quarters,” Roentved stated. “I think both Leo (Gibson) and Stefan St. Louis did a tremendous job up front to make it more difficult for them up front. Even though we came in with the game plan to play more low pressure, we picked the right times to go up and pressure them and made it difficult for them at times to get out of the back.”
Gibson’s seven points (three 2 point goals and an assist) was his third straight game with at least a hat trick and totaled 29 points over those three games, the most ever for a player in that number of games.
Comets 8 -17 Rochester
The last two matches between the Comets and the Lancers have featured a player taking his team on their back and running with them. In December, Rochester’s 43 year old Doug Miller showed that old men (old for playing indoor soccer) can still play. He scored 6 goals in an amazing performance.
The next meeting between the two clubs was in Independence Missouri last week and Leo Gibson put away six goals and two assists to set a league record. While no records were set this time, it was Doug Miller’s turn to be on fire. The Comets started very slow and Miller took advantage of that.
“We came out extremely flat in the first half,” Comets head coach Kim Roentved explained. “Obviously we had a tough game last night, we had long travel, we got up at 3:15 this morning, we missed two flights on the way up here and we ended up not getting in until 45 minutes before the game.”
Roentved wasn’t willing to accept all those factors as excuses. “The boys did not get enough rest but we still came out flat,” Roentved admitted. “We weren’t ready to play. Whether it was walking around airports all day, getting up at three A.M. or whatever, we still should have come out in a more professional manner and we didn’t.”
Miller’s four goals and three by his team mates gave Rochester a 15-0 lead at the half. In the third the Comets were finally able to put a ball in the net when Ramone Palmer scored. The fourth quarter was all Comets when they scored three times but it was at least as much the Lancers slowing down as it was the Comets improving play.
“To go one and one before we left, we would have been happy with but after winning in Baltimore, two and oh sounded very reasonable,” Roentved observed.
Schedule gets easier
“That is our last bad road trip,” Roentved stated happily. “We have five home games of the next seven and with the game against Baltimore I think we proved to ourselves that we can play with a very, very tough team and beat them.”
The Comets have one more back to back games left but the first one is at home this Friday and the second game is not until the next evening, not the next afternoon like this last weekend.
The Comets schedule may be easier for the rest of the season but they are still battling injuries. Stefan Stokic injured his knee and is probably out for the season. Byron Alvarez missed his third straight game (the first was for suspension) when he hurt a back muscle in training during the week. Craig Rocastle is still not cleared to train and may not be available for the rest of the season.