You bet – just ask Missouri Comets rookie goalie Stephen Paterson and cool-as-the-other-side-of-the-pillow captain Vahid Assadpour, who joined their undefeated teammates to down the St. Louis Ambush 7-5 Friday night at the Independence Events Center in a crowd pleaser that improved the Comets to a MASL-best 13-0.
Paterson, 27, a rookie playing his first indoor game as a replacement for injured Danny Waltman, was a rock in the net and Assadpour made the goalkeeper's life a bit easier with a hat trick and an assist.
Missouri scored just 54 seconds into the game and claimed a 4-0 first-period lead before the 4-7 Ambush scored three of the next four goals to make the game more than a bit interesting.
“This was a team win,” stressed Assadpour, who scored the first, sixth and seventh goals of the game to claim Borden's Man of the Game award. “We all contributed, but make no mistake about it – it was a team win – going from Stephen to every other player on the team.
“We made it a bit more comfortable for a new goalie by scoring the first four goals, but they came back and made it a real close game. And Stephen stood in there and did a great job.”
When asked if being undefeated at this point of the season can be a distraction, Assadpour said, “It can be. But for us, it is more of a confidence builder. We are a very confident team. We were confident with Danny in the net, and we are confident with Stephen in the net, too.
“The way we played tonight, you could not tell who was in the net. We play the same way – aggressive. We play our system and we play as a team.”
And through 13 games, that has been an unbeatable combination.
“I am so proud of the boys,” said assistant coach Goran Karadzov, who was subbing for head coach Vlatko Andonovski, who was attending the National Women's Soccer League's national collegiate draft, representing FC Kansas City, which he also coaches.
“Stephen was great in the net. Sure, he made some rookie mistakes, but he is not a computer, he is a human being and we all make mistakes. I am sure I made some coaching mistakes tonight. But the team played our system and we got the early lead, which I thought was very important with the rookie goalie in the net.
“And in the end, when they made the game close, our captain scores two very big goals. This is a very special team.”
Following the game, the longest postgame autograph line waited for Paterson to finish his interview session so they could meet the newest Comets hero.
“I was nervous, I'll admit that,” Paterson said. “But you know what? I felt good out there. I don't know when Vahid scored the first goal, but I know it was under the first minute. And then, in the next couple of minutes we had the 4-0 lead and I was feeling more confident.”
And how was he feeling when the Ambush cut their deficit to 4-2 and 5-4?
“I was still confident,” he said. “The guys played a great game tonight. I had so much help from the defense. If I was out of position, there was always someone in the net, making a big stop.”
Alain Matingou, who scored on an unassisted, coast-to-coast goal to make it a 5-2 game, had a big save in front of the net and Robert Palmer made back-to-back saves in the third period.
“Everyone contributed,” Assadpour said. “That's what I was talking about when I said it was a team win. We played tonight like we've played all season.”
Assadpour, Brian Harris, Andre Braithwaite and MASL scoring leader Leo Gibson all scored in the first period. That was it for the Comets offense in the first half as the Ambush scored the next two goals.
Matingou scored midway through the third period to make it 5-2. The Ambush scored a sixth-attacker goal and another goal off a restart to make it 5-4, but Assadpour scored at 8:07 and with 46 seconds left in the fourth quarter to account for the final Comets points. St. Louis' final score came with just 26 seconds left in the game.
• A young fan among the 4,587 in attendance was hit in the face with a ball during the game. Comets vice president Scott Levin immediately went to check on him and gave him a ball that Waltman came over to sign.