Mark Saxby woke up this morning thinking the most demanding item on his list of things to do was his taxes.
Then he got the phone call he’d dreamed of all his life.
It was from the Kansas City Comets, who were in need of a goalkeeper for Friday night’s home game against the St. Louis Ambush.
Newly acquired Jeff Richey was sick and Casey Gasson was out of town, thinking that Richey would be in the nets for the Comets.
“I’d just worked out and was taking a shower when I got the call,” said Saxby, a two-time all-state soccer player from Olathe East High School who was also an all-state placekicker his senior year on the football team.
“I thought all I was going to be doing was my taxes, then the Comets called and asked me if I was interested in signing a contract to play tonight.”
Luckily, he didn’t get a speeding ticket as he drove from his family’s home to the Comets offices, where signed a Major Arena Soccer League contract.
His first start didn’t turn out like he’d hoped, a heartbreaking 7-6 loss to the Ambush that saw the Comets rally from an early 4-0 deficit, but the twinkle in his eyes and enthusiasm in his voice made it clear that he had lived out a personal dream.
“Mark was outstanding – fantastic,” Comets coach Kim Roentved said after his team fell to 5-12 and suffered a big blow to its playoff hopes. “He played well enough to win.
“But like we have talked about so many times this season, we cannot keep getting behind by two, three, four goals and think we can come back and win every game. It’s like that flu that’s been going around. We get behind, make a comeback and like tonight, it falls short of our goal.
“It’s disappointing for me, our players and our great fans. The stands were full tonight and believe me, everyone in that locker room wanted to give them a win, especially Mark.”
Saxby had many family members and friends in the stands and they were almost rewarded with a dramatic victory as Roentved pulled Saxby for an extra attacker with 7:37 left in the game and his team trailing 7-4.
Guerrero Pino scored a quick goal and Adam James completed the hat trick with his third goal to make it 7-6 with just over six minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The Comets made a furious attempt to tie the game, but could not come up with the big goal as the Ambush claimed their first win over Kansas City on the season in four tries.
“I was a little bit nervous before the game, but I felt confident once our warm-ups started,” Saxby said. “I have so much respect for Kim and my teammates. They battled hard tonight and did everything they could to win this game.
“I hope this is the start of something special with the Comets.”
St. Louis led 3-0 after one period and took 5-3 lead into the locker room at halftime as Jones scored two goals and Kiel Williams added a header.
St. Louis (3-15) scored the lone third period goal, setting up the dramatic finish.