SALTILLO, Mexico – Leo Gibson was on a mission.
The veteran forward and Major Arena Soccer League scoring leader netted four goals in the first 4 minutes, 20 seconds Friday and he finished with five as the Missouri Comets downed host Saltillo Rancho Seco 14-8 in the first of a two-game trip in Mexico.
The Comets improved to 14-0 and clinched an MASL playoff spot with the victory. The Comets can clinch the Central Division title with a win Sunday afternoon against the 14-1 Monterrey Flash in Monterrey, Mexico.
Gibson’s early outburst helped stake the Comets to a 7-1 lead after the first quarter. Robert Palmer, Max Touloute and Vahid Assadpour also scored goals in the first.
Saltillo scored the first three goals of the second period to cut it to 7-4 but Alain Matingou scored an unassisted goal at the 10:26 mark and Andrew Brathwaite scored off a Bryan Perez assist to put the Comets ahead 9-4 at the intermission.
Again, Saltillo (1-11) scored the first three goals in the first four minutes of the second half to cut the deficit to 9-7.
Perez scored an unassisted goal nearly three minutes later, Assadpour tallied his second goal on a Stefan Stokic assist and Perez assisted on a John Sosa goal to put the Comets back up 12-7.
Manuel Valentin’s unassisted goal made it 12-8 in the final quarter before Josh Gardner and Gibson added goals to seal the victory and the playoff berth. Gibson now leads the MASL with 57 points (31 goals, 26 assists).
Perez finished with three assists and Assadpour, Sosa and Stokic each added two.
Waltman, in his first game back from a high ankle sprain injury, earned the victory in goal to improve to a league-best 13-0.