It’s been quite a week for Wichita, Kan., native Steven Hamersky.
The Kansas City Comets rookie goaltender graduated from the Wichita/Sedgwick County Law Enforcement Training Academy and started his first Major Arena Soccer League game Sunday afternoon at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
Hamersky stood tall in his Comets debut, but a dramatic header by Cedar Rapids forward Tony Walls sailed past the rookie’s outstretched arms at 6:59 of the overtime period to give the Rampage an 8-7 victory.
“I was proud of Steven,” Comets coach Kim Roentved said after his young team fell to 1-3. “He graduated from the police academy Dec. 1, and he has more degrees than a thermometer. He played well today – well enough to win, but we’re a young team with a lot of new players and we are still working on becoming a team.
“I’m not using that as an excuse, it’s just a fact. I don’t want to get too many games below .500, but you have not seen the best of this team. We are going to get better and we better start soon because Danny and Tacoma are coming to town next Friday.”
He was referring to former Comets goalkeeper Danny Waltman, who along with former Comets players Alain Matingou, Robert Palmer and Ramone Palmer will face Kansas City at 7:05 p.m. Friday at SEC Arena before a rematch at Cedar Rapids on Saturday.
Upon hearing Roentved’s comment about Hamersky being a Wichita police officer, Comets director of communications Jeff Husted quipped, “We’re going to call him ‘The Lawman.’”
Hamersky didn’t ride off into the sunset with a win Sunday, but he said he was pleased with his Comets debut.
“Honestly, I’m pleased with how I played,” said Hamersky, who last played for FC Wichita of the National Premier Soccer League. “I wish we would have won, of course, and there are a lot of things I need to work on, but I’m happy Kim gave me the opportunity to start a game and I look forward to my next start.”
Hamersky and Casey Gasson, who has starts in the Comets’ three previous games, are both on the roster, although Gasson did not dress for Sunday’s game.
“We have both of them on the roster and I will decide who plays – who’s the hot goalie,” Roentved said. “I liked what I saw from Steven today. As a coach, you like to have two goalkeepers so you can go with the one with the hot hand and I know both of them will work hard to start for this team.”
Kansas City’s Kiel Williams had two first-half goals and Lucas Rodriguez, Guerrero Pino, Leo Gibson and Pat Kelly all found the back of the net to give the Comets a 6-5 halftime lead.
Tanner Hunjak had the lone third quarter goal, giving the Comets a 7-5 advantage going into the final 15 minutes.
But the rookie goalie and his new teammates couldn’t secure that lead as Alex Bradley scored twice to tie it and force overtime for Cedar Rapids.
Overtime features a 10-minute period in which the first team to score earns the victory.
With three minutes left in overtime, Cedar Rapids goalkeeper Brett Petricek floated a ball deep into Comets territory. Walls got to the ball and scored on a header that left everyone on the Comets bench shellshocked.
“You don’t see a goal like that every day – especially a game-winner,” Roentved said. “There are some days you have to tip your hat to your opponent, and this was one of those days.”
Added Hamersky: “Yeah, I didn’t think they were going to score the game-winner off a pass from their goalie and a header. The ball was floating up there and (Walls) made a great play.”