ST. CHARLES, Mo. – Missouri Comets defender Brian Harris termed it a “gut check,” and goalkeeper Danny Waltman called it “inspirational.”
They were talking about the undefeated Comets’ 8-5 victory over the St. Louis Ambush Saturday night at the Family Arena.
The Comets dressed just 13 players due to injuries to Max Touloute, Ramone Palmer and Coady Andrews and played without head coach Vlatko Andonovski, who was suspended one game for receiving a red card in team’s previous shootout win at Milwaukee.
“Talk about a gut check,” Harris said after the Comets improved to 11-0 in their first Major Arena Soccer League season. “I’ve never been as proud of our guys. We were all tired and found a way to win. We never let down, and with Danny in the net, you just know you’re going to find a way to win.”
Last year’s MISL champions started off strong, taking a 2-0 lead early in the first quarter when rookie Kiel Williams notched his second professional goal followed by Vahid Assadpour’s 16th tally of the season.
However, Manny Forbes found the back of the net cut the Ambush’s deficit to 2-1.
St. Louis came back and took its only lead of the match early in the second quarter when Jeff DiMaria and Elvir Kafedzic each tallied a goal, but John Sosa equalized with an outstanding free kick, taking a 3-3 tie into halftime.
“Man, it was inspirational watching our guys out there playing so hard, playing three men down. I never for a minute didn’t think we were going to win that game,” said Waltman, who has been in the goal for all 11 Comet wins this season.
“We’re playing so well right now, I just feel like if I can keep it close, we’re going to find a way to win. It might be exciting – maybe a little too exciting – but we’re going to win.”
Goals by Robert Palmer and Andre Braithwaite helped the Comets regain the lead, before Kory Dowell beat Waltman with a shot that crossed the line in the top right corner, giving Missouri a 5-4 lead going into the final quarter.
Braithwaite, Leo Gibson and Matingou scored goals to seal the Missouri win. Former Comet Stefan St. Louis scored a late goal for the Ambush to account for the final score.
In Andonovski’s absence, assistant coach Goran Koradzov and former Kansas City Comets goaltender Alan Meyer, who recently had his number retired by the Missouri Comets, served as coaches.
“They were great, just great,” Waltman said. “Alan Mayer might be the nicest man I have ever met and Goran is great, too. Alan played my position and I can talk to him about anything. He is just such a positive influence, mentor and father figure to have around. We’re lucky to have both those guys.”
Braithwaite was elected Borden Man of the Match with two goals. Gibson recorded one goal and an assist to remain the MASL scoring leader with 43 points.