Just 14 seconds into the Missouri Comets’ highly anticipated matchup Saturday with powerful San Diego, the Sockers' Kraig Chiles capped a three-on-one breakaway and slapped the ball past Missouri goalkeeper Danny Waltman.
“Talk about a wakeup call,” Waltman said, “that was it. When they scored that quickly, it was 'Game on!'”
The Sockers then scored another quick goal to take a 2-0 lead.
That's when Comets coach Vlatko Andonovski called a timeout.
“No one was panicked, but we weren't playing the way we are capable,” said Andonovski, whose 9-0 Comets scored the next three goals and went on to claim a nail-biting 10-7 victory before an appreciative crowd of 4,200 at the Independence Events Center.
The Comets' Big Three – Brian Harris, Leo Gibson and captain Vahid Assadpour – scored first-period goals to give Missouri a 3-2 lead going into the second period.
Alain Matingou and Assoadpour kept the pressure on Sockers (6-2) goalie Chris Toth as the Comets padded their lead to 5-2, but Chiles scored his second goal and Nick Perera added a goal to make it a 5-4 game at the half.
“We knew the Sockers would be one of the toughest opponents we would face, and we were ready for the challenge,” Assadpour said. “We know we can score goals and we have so much confidence in Danny. Even when they scored those early goals, we knew Danny was going to be strong in the net. But we also knew we had to keep scoring in the second half.”
The Sockers came out strong in the third period as Mardney Ney Almeida and former Comets forward Jeff Hughes scored goals to give the visitors a short-lived 6-5 advantage. That would be their final lead of the night as Max “The Haitian Sensation” Touloute scored at 10:45 to knot the score at 6-all heading into the fourth.
“We had to maintain our composure and do the things that allowed us to enter the game with an unbeaten record,” Andonovski said, when asked about the fourth-quarter strategy. “I told the boys to go out and have some fun and to play with intensity – which they did.”
Gibson gave the Comets the lead at 2:45, and Harris and Mantigou gave Waltman some breathing room with their second goals of the night to make it a 9-6 game. The Sockers' Chiles recorded the hat trick when he scored a sixth-attacker goal, but Assadpour answered with his own hat trick as he closed out the scoring with a late sixth-attacker goal for the Comets.
“This is a big win for this team, for this organization,” Assadpour said. “I couldn't be prouder of the way we played tonight.”
Harris was named the Borden Player of the Game as he finished with two goals and two assists. Waltman finished with 10 saves and remained undefeated in the net.
“It was fun and exciting to watch our confidence level grow throughout the game,” Waltman said. “They had the early lead, then we came back and led at the half. They regain the lead in the second half and we come out and score those three goals in the fourth quarter and win. I've never been a part of a team like this. The brotherhood, the bond, the talent – it's pretty special.”