Stephen Paterson is not new to the Kansas City Comets.
However, his newfound fame and honors are something that could overwhelm a young man who stands in the spotlight night after night for the Comets, as he is now among the top goalkeepers in the Major Arena Soccer League.
In the team’s first win of the season, he brought the ball down the field and scored a goal against cross-state rival St. Louis in a memorable 8-3 victory.
But that was just the beginning as he made 19 saves in a 6-0 win over previously unbeaten Chicago to become the first goalie in the MASL this season to record a shutout. That 6-0 victory was also the first shutout in the history of the Comets since the team reorganized back in 2010.
“Stephen has been everything we had hoped for the in the net,” first-year head coach Goran Karadzov said as Paterson was named the MASL Player of the Week Thursday. “He is a very smart player, he works hard and the boys play hard for him. He is a complete team player and one of the big reasons we are playing some of our best soccer at this time of the season.”
The Player of the Week award is the second award for Paterson this season.
The second year goalkeeper is currently second in the league in goals against average (3.63) and save percentage (.760). He also holds the unique distinction of leading all MASL goalkeepers in goals scored and shutout wins.
“Things seem to be going the team’s way and my way,” Paterson said after a recent practice session. “I guess all that’s happened to me personally could be a little overwhelming, but I have been with the team two years – although I’d just played three games before this season. But I was ready to be a starting goalkeeper. I just want to help this team win.”
While he has starred in the net, he has gained the complete faith and trust of his teammates.
“We had Danny (Waltman, the former face of the team who is now with Tacoma) and then had Boris (Pardo) last year, so we have been blessed with very good goalkeepers,” team captain Vahid Assadpour said. “And Steven has stepped in and played some great soccer. We all got excited when he scored that goal in the first game and now, he just keeps doing things that help us win games.”
Added defender Brian Harris: “If you make a mistake, Stephen will always be there to back you up. Really, he just goes out and stops everything. You don’t even think of him being back there because you know what he’s going to do – and that’s make every play possible.”
Paterson and the Comets have two games this weekend, first traveling to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to face the division rival Cedar Rapids Rampage Saturday night. Then the team returns to Kansas City to host the defending champion Baltimore Blast at 5:05 p.m. Sunday at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
“That’s how the schedule works in this league – it seems like we don’t play for a long time, then we have back-to-back games on the road and at home, and we love it,” Paterson said. “The guys are so excited to get back out there to play. We opened this season against the Rampage and they beat us for the first time in the history of the team, so we’re looking forward to playing them again. And then, when you play the Blast, anything can happen. That is always a huge game.
“We’re all happy it’s a home game because we get such great support from our fans.”
The Comets will celebrate their annual “Salute to Service” Sunday, with the players wearing special jerseys that will be auctioned off during the game to benefit Cars 4 Heroes. All members of the military, current and former, will receive special discounted tickets. To purchase tickets, or for more information, visit KCComets.com or call 855-4KC-GOAL.