Kim Roentved was tired.
The Kansas City Comets coach was experiencing the kind of fatigue that comes from experiencing 3 a.m. and 2 a.m. flights over the past three days while watching his team close out a two-game swing to the Sunshine State with a disheartening 12-9 loss to the Florida Tropics Sunday at RP Funding Center in Lakeland, Fla.
What made the loss so disappointing is that it came less than 24 hours after a 9-7 win over the Orlando SeaWolves. The 10-10 Comets return home for a vital South Central division rivalry matchup against the St Louis Ambush at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.
They head into the big game against St. Louis with a one-game advantage over the Ambush (10-12) and SeaWolves (8-10) for the division’s final playoff spot.
“I’m not as young as I used to be – back when we played on the road and had two games in two nights,” Roentved said. “I don’t know if fatigue played a role in our loss Sunday, but I was so disappointed in all our individual mistakes.
“Of their 11 goals ≠ before they scored late against our sixth attacker – I can point to an individual mistake that led to each of those goals. And you cannot make mistakes like that this late in the season, especially this late in the season when you are fighting for your playoff life.
“But, they are all correctable and we have a week’s worth of practice before we play St. Louis at home this Saturday.”
The Tropics grabbed a 2-0 lead on goals by Enzo Marangoni and Matt Clare before Leo Gibson, Bryan Perez and James Togbah scored to put the Comets ahead 3-2. Goals by Rafa Alves and Victor Parreiras just 17 seconds apart in the final minute of the first quarter put Florida back ahead 4-3.
Alves scored his second goal – the only one of the second quarter – to make it 5-3 at halftime.
Ricardo De Queiroz Diegues then took over the second half, scoring five goals. He scored two for a 7-3 Florida lead before Robert Palmer and a second one from Perez pulled the Comets within 7-5 entering the final quarter.
Kansas City attempted to come back several times in the fourth – with Kiel Williams scoring two goals and Anthony Grant adding another – but they could not shut down De Queiroz Diegues, who added three more goals as Florida tallied five in the final period.
“Usually, I would say eight goals would be enough to beat Florida, or most teams,” Roentved said, “but not on a night when you make as many mistakes as we did.”
On Saturday, Kansas City forward Anthony Grant led all scorers with three goals and an assist in the win at Orlando.
Perez scored at the 2:40 mark of the first quarter to give the Comets an early lead. Former Comet and current SeaWolves forward Elmo Neto briefly tied the game midway through the quarter, but Grant and Gibson each scored to give the Comets a 3-2 lead.
Ignacio “Nacho” Flores and Togbah were able to crack through the SeaWolves’ defensive shell in the second period to open up a 5-2 lead at halftime.
SeaWolves captain Joshio Sandoval earned a red card midway through the second period. As the ball was tied up in the corner, Kansas City’s Grant had the ball held up and Sandoval leaned in, seemingly to try and pull the ball away. Instead he leaned in and bit Grant on the arm and was immediately ejected from the match.
After a SeaWolves foul, defender Kevin Ellis quickly restarted the play with a pass to Perez, who dished off to a wide-open Grant for the score. Grant completed his hat trick late in the third period with an assist from Ellis, and Togbah scored his league-leading seventh power play goal for an 8-4 lead.
The Comets took a defensive stance throughout the fourth quarter. Grant added an assist when he cut across the middle then sent an easy pass to Gibson for the final goal.
Orlando attempted a comeback, scoring three fourth-quarter goals, but the Comets held on for the win.