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Trio helps Comets extend winning streak

By Bill Althaus

A rookie, an all-star and a brick wall in the net paved the way for the Kansas City Comets’ third win in a row.

They needed a total team effort to stop the Dallas Sidekicks 10-6 Friday night in Major Arena Soccer League action at Cable Dahmer Arena.

The rookie is forward Rian Marques, who shared his first hat trick with the celebratory crowd as he walked around the field twice, posing for photos, shaking virtual hands and sporting a smile that might never leave his face.

Nacho Flores celebrates after scoring a goal in Friday night's 10-6 win over Dallas. It was the Comets third win a row and helped the team reach the .500 mark at 4-4

The all-star is Dom “Dominator” Francis, who was on coach Leo Gibson’s MASL East All-Star team in December. He normally plays for the Harrisburg Heat, but they chose not to play this COVID-tinged season and signed with the Comets this week.

He had two goals in his debut with the Comets and broke a career-long streak of never winning on blue turf.

Kansas City player/coach Leo Gibson steals the ball away from a Dallas defender in the Comets' 10-6 victory over the Sidekicks Friday night at Cable Dahmer Arena.

And the brick wall is Nicolau Neto, who is quickly becoming one of the premier goalkeepers in the MASL. He was especially tough during a 6-on-4 Sidekick power play in the fourth quarter in which he made a diving stop, a kick save, a point-blank stop and a jumping, twisting save of what appeared to be a sure goal.

“We played off Nicolau tonight,” Marques said, still sporting that smile. “He was amazing, so strong in the net. We had to score to make sure he was given a win because he deserved it.”

Francis, who left the locker room with a brace on his left wrist after taking a direct shot off an indirect kick, was pleased with his Comets debut.

“First and foremost,” Francis quipped, “I can put to end the streak of never winning on blue turf. That was a concern coming here (wink). No, I did actually think about before the game, but with Leo as the coach and all the talent we have, I couldn’t be happier playing here.

“I talked with Leo this week and we were able to work out a deal since Harrisburg is not playing, and I am happy to be in Kansas City.”

Lucas Sousa heads toward the net in Friday night's 10-6 victory over the Dallas Sidekicks.

Neto showed a great deal of emotion following the fourth quarter in which Dallas used keeper Sanaldo Carvalho as a sixth attacker. At one point the Sidekicks had a 6-on-4 advantage because of a blue card, and Neto stood tall.

“Nicolau is quickly becoming one of the top young goalies in the league,” Gibson said after the Comets won their third straight game to even their record at 4-4 and move into third place behind Ontario and Florida. “Everyone has so much confidence in him, and you can see his confidence growing as the season goes on.”

Neto finished with 17 saves.

“I am always in the mindset that I think I can stop every shot that comes my way,” Neto said. “Leo does such a good job of setting up game situations at practice and that prepares for me everything I might see in a game.”

The Sidekicks took a 1-0 lead just 58 seconds into the game on Oscar Romero’s goal, but John Sosa and Francis followed with goals to give the Comets a lead they never relinquished.

Seven different Comets scored, with Mike DaSilva getting a goal and two assists. Kevin Ellis, Ignacio “Nacho” Flores and Ray Lee also added goals for the Comets, who host the Sidekicks against at 5 p.m. Sunday at Cable Dahmer Arena.

Romero and Felipe De Sousa each scored two goals to lead Dallas (1-6).