Kansas City Comets fall one win short of MASL finals in dramatic playoff finale

Bill Althaus
The Examiner

Dom Francis walked out of the Kansas City Comets’ locker room nearly an hour after the Ontario Fury had won a 2-1 mini-game to advance to the Ron Newman Cup Championship series.

Francis was exhausted. He had just scored three goals, including the overtime game-winner, earlier in a dramatic 7-6 win that tied the Major Arena Soccer League semifinal playoff series to set up the heartbreaking mini-game loss Saturday night at Cable Dahmer Arena.

The veteran forward even scored the lone Kansas City goal in the mini-game, but the Fury's Jorge Delon knotted the score at 8:36 and Uzi Tayou – the brother of Franck Tayou, who had a hat trick in the Fury's 7-6 loss – scored the game-winner at 9:19 of the 15-minute mini-game.

"Just about, just about – so close," Francis said in hushed tones as he greeted a small gathering of wives and friends of the Comets. "We showed in the playoffs that we can compete with any team, and we were so close – so close – in the mini-game.

Kansas City Comets midfielder Lucas Sousa (7) takes a shot on goal against Ontario Fury defender and former Comet Robert Palmer (51) in their MASL semifinal playoff game Saturday. The Comets won 7-6 in overtime but lost 2-1 in the mini-game as Ontario advanced to the championship.

"We had the lead and Ontario never gave up. They're a great team, and I hope they do well in the championship series, but I know we could be there, and that's disappointing. But I watched so many of our young guys grow up this season and now, they have had a taste of playoff soccer and they are going to want to go back every season."

The Comets took a 4-1 lead in the regular game earlier Saturday as Francis, Ignacio “Nacho” Flores, Lucas Sousa and Francis – with perfect placement on a penalty kick – allowed the Comets to go into the halftime locker room with a three-goal lead.

The Fury, however, staged a furious comeback in the second half, tying the game at 4-all on a Juan Carlos Gonzalez goal at 11:17 of the third period.

Sousa and Ramone Palmer scored quick goals for the Comets at 10:02 and 10:31 of the fourth quarter to give goalie Nicolau Neto some breathing room.

But Franck Tayou scored his third goal of the game to cut the deficit to 6-5 at 12:10 and Malcon De Abreau tied the game on a sixth-attacker goal with just 40 seconds left in regulation time.

Kansas City Comets forward Dom Francis slips a penalty kick past Ontario Fury goalkeeper Claysson de Lima in the second quarter of Saturday's Game 2 of the MASL semifinal playoff series. Francis scored in overtime to lift the Comets to a 7-6 win to tie the series, but the Comets fell 2-1 in the 15-minute mini-game that followed to end their season.

That sent the game into overtime, when Francis made the game-winning kick from an impossible angle at the 3:13 mark, to set up the mini-game.

"I am so proud of our guys and how far we have come as a team," Comets player/coach Leo Gibson said. "We had the veterans like Dom and (John) Sosa and (Kevin) Ellis and young players like Neto and Sousa and (Rian) Marques and so many others who have made huge strides this season."

Franck Tayou, who had eight goals in the playoffs for the Fury, praised Gibson and his young team.

"They are an outstanding team, and with Leo as their coach and all the young talent they have, they are going to be very competitive for a long time. They showed us what they are made of in this series," he said.

The Fury will meet the San Diego Sockers, who defeated the Florida Tropics 4-3 in Saturday afternoon's other semifinal game, in Ontario, California, next weekend.