Late in the third period of the Kansas City Comets’ nerve-wracking, 7-6 victory over Harrisburg, it was announced at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena that the Milwaukee Wave had defeated conference rival St. Louis 6-2.
That loss, combined with the Comets victory gave coach Kim Roentved’s 9-7 team a two-game lead over the 9-11 Ambush for the second and final playoff spot in the Major Arena Soccer League’s South Central Division.
The announcement had no impact on the play of goalie Mark Saxby, who starred in his first start since the announcement that the team had replaced starter Brett Petricek.
“They announced the St. Louis score?” asked Saxby, after he stood strong in the net, stopping 12 of 18 Heat shots on goal. “A game like that raises the intensity level of everyone and you don’t pay any attention to what is being said (by the public address announcer).
“I just know that Coach Roentved runs a tough, intense practice to get us ready for anything and his practices certainly got us ready for a game like this.”
In a seesaw affair, the Comets take a 3-2 lead after one period, and 5-4 lead at halftime.
But the Heat used two quick fourth-quarter goals to tie it 6-6 before Robert Palmer scored the game-winner from beyond the yellow line with just 3:30 left.
“A high intensity game for sure,” Palmer said. “This was a game we needed to win. It was at home, and we have been playing very well at home, and St. Louis lost, so we now have a two-game advantage over them. That means that every game the rest of the season will have a playoff feel and we are ready for that.
“Our practices are intense, so we are used to anything in a game.”
Roentved was thrilled with the victory and the performance of Saxby in the net.
“Do you notice how I come out of the locker room much quicker after a win,” a smiling Roentved said. “This game was not as complete as our last win (9-4 over Orlando at home), but it was a good, solid victory.
“And I am so happy for Mark. He gets excited – sometimes, a bit too excited – but we don’t win this game without his performance.”
When asked about the release of Petricek, the coach simply said, “Brett is a great fella, but he was not happy here. He asked to be traded, and we did not want an unhappy player in our locker room. No one wants to be a member of this team any more than Mark Saxby and it showed in the way he played today.”
James Togbah opened the scoring for the Comets at the 3:19 mark of the first quarter. His second goal of the half, at the 11:35 mark of the second, gave the Comets their 5-4 halftime lead.
Leo Gibson tied it 4-4 with a goal at 5:19 of the second quarter. Ramone Palmer’s goal at 10:04 of the third put the Comets ahead 6-4.
Gui Gomes and Kevin Ellis also scored in the first half. John Sosa tallied three assists and Kiel Williams had two.