One look at coach Kim Roentved’s face – following a controversial 9-7 loss to the Cedar Rapids Rampage Sunday afternoon at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, showed the angst and disappointment that comes during a roller-coaster ride of a season.
“Look, I’ve played the game and coached the game,” said Roentved, who was one of the premier MISL defenders when he starred for Wichita and the Comets in the early 1980s, “and I’ve had my share of losses. But today’s loss is in the top three all time. And I don’t even know how to explain it.”
He was furious over a third-quarter call that wiped out what would have been a key Comets goal, but he was even more upset about his team’s lackluster play early in the must-win game.
With the loss, the Comets are 4-11 with five games remaining in the regular season. The 8-8 Rampage, who are 4-0 against Kansas City this season, must lose their remaining four games and the Comets must win all five to have a shot at a playoff berth.
“We are capable of winning five in a row, but not if we play like we played today,” Roentved said. “We brought in a new keeper (veteran Jeff Richey) and I promised him he would have a good team playing in front of him. And that was not the case tonight.
“You talk about the bounces going one way or another in indoor soccer, and that is true. But what I saw from our team tonight was awful – just awful! They are pros. They are big boys! So I am going to tell it like it is – their play tonight in the first half was unacceptable!
“We can play strong defense, but we didn’t in the first half. And our passing – oh, our passing – it was awful. We looked like we were playing nervous and we are pros, we should not be playing nervous. We get down 6-2 and maybe one goal should have been made against Jeff.He had very little help out there.”
After trailing 6-2 at the half, the Comets staged yet another strong second half comeback, but it was too little, too late.
For a moment, it appeared they had cut the deficit to 6-5 on a Bryan Perez goal off a restart. But it was soon wiped off the scoreboard.
According to Comets media relations director Jeff Husted, the Comets were advised by the referee to move the placement of the restart back to where the foul occurred. Immediately after that, a Comets player left to get in position for the play.
The trailing official noted that Kansas City did not move the ball and forced the team to play the ball again from the proper restart, adding six seconds back onto the clock before play resumed.
“I’m still not sure what happened,” Roentved said. “I feel like I have spiders in my brain, it’s all crazy. I just know this team needs to start playing with the confidence I have in them. They played with no confidence today. Why? We are a young team with new players but we have so much more talent than we are showing on the field. I don’t know, it’s all so disappointing.”
Following the loss of the goal, Guerrero Pino scored an unassisted goal, which would have tied the score. Perez added two more goals for Kansas City in the final period, but each time the Comets scored, Cedar Rapids answered with a goal of its own.
The Rampage’s final goal, by Gordy Gerson, came with six seconds left.
There was one highlight Sunday as longtime fan favorite Leo Gibson scored his 199th and 200th career goals. He is No. 1 on the Comets’ all-time goal scored list. He scored the first two goals of the game.
“Leo is Leo, what can you say?” Roentved said. “He is a pro’s pro, a gentleman on and off the field and a great player. I am so honored to coach Leo Gibson.”
Following his 200th career goal, Gibson received a lengthy standing ovation.
“It was special to score my 200th goal in front of our fans,” Gibson said. “But tonight, I would have traded both goals for a win. In the eight years I have played for the Comets, we have made the playoffs each year – even back in year one when we started 0-6.
“This has been a difficult season because we are so young, but we are not playing up to our potential. We have a lot of talent. We needed to win this game today. We still have a chance at the playoffs, but a win today would have given us more of a chance.”