In what turned into a tight defensive effort, the Missouri Comets closed out their busy after Christmas schedule welcoming the Milwaukee Wave to the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena for the first game of the New Year. The two teams who played a tight game a month ago at the SEC again played a superb defensive game.
The game started out going back and forth between both teams. Both Missouri and Milwaukee had some decent chances but Boris Pardo and Nick Vorberg both came up with some big saves early on. It wasn’t until the game was almost 10 minutes old that the first goal was scored. The Comets had had pressure on the Wave, pinning them in their own end. The goal came after a Vahid Assadpour shot was knocked wide of the goal by Vorberg. At the back side though was Milan Ivanovic who unmarked knocked the ball into the net putting the Comets up 1-0 and atoning for an earlier miss when he’d missed a goal on the doorstep. Twenty seconds later the Comets were able to put themselves up 2-0. The Comets high pressure forced a high pass to Vorberg who was outside the box. The Wave goalkeeper tried to bring the ball down on his chest but Stefan Stokic knocked the ball away and raced towards goal but was brought down by Vorberg from behind in the box. With a penalty kick give, Assadpour stepped up and buried a penalty kick for his first goal of the night to double the Comets lead. The Comets were able to add another goal before the quarter ended as Gibson beat his defender in the corner and fired a shot into the far post to put the Comets on top 3-0 after one quarter.
Like the first quarter, the second quarter continued with a tight performance. The Comets controlled a good portion early on, but as the quarter continued the Wave started to get more of the ball. Around the midpoint of the quarter though the Comets added a fourth goal to their total as a long ball over the top found Gibson. The Comets forward chipped a ball into the box where Ivanovic had arrived to head the ball past Vorberg and into the net. Shortly after the goal though the Wave were able to get themselves on the board through a shootout attempt of their own through Max Ferdinand. After Stokic almost made Vorberg pay again for a poor giveaway the ball the Wave countered the other way through Ferdinand. Robert Palmer fell down while in pursuit, leaving Ferdinand one on one with Pardo. The Comets goalkeeper pushed Ferdinand wide but fouled the Wave midfielder just outside the box drawing a blue card and shootout that Ferdinand put away himself. The Comets did a good job of shutting down the Wave attack by playing keep away and were able to go into the half up 4-1.
The defensive effort by both teams continued into the second half as neither side was able to get themselves on the board early on in the third quarter. Both teams had their chances but the defense on both teams was able to shut down the chances and when they didn’t the goalkeepers kept the ball out of the net. It wasn’t until there less than five minutes left in the quarter that the Comets scored, but it was worth the wait as Max Touloute on his return from injury fired a blistering effort into the far corner to make it 5-1 to the Comets.
The Wave started to apply more pressure in the fourth quarter needing to cut the lead down. The Comets though were getting more chances on the counter but Vorberg continued to come up big. The saves proved to be worth it as the Wave were able to cut the lead to three just over the half way point of the quarter. Kevin Ten Eyck handled a Milwaukee cross in the box, drawing a blue card and giving the Wave a penalty kick. Ferdinand stepped up and sent it right down the middle to make it 5-2 with just over seven minutes left. As soon as the Wave won the ball back off the kickoff they went to the sixth attacker bringing another player up the field to try to cut further into the lead. The Comets defense held firm and kept the Wave out of the net, but were unable to hit on the counter. With less than three minutes left though the Wave began to make it interesting as a pair of goals by Ian Bennett in the span of 16 seconds made it a one goal game at 5-4. The Wave continued to pressure, keeping the Comets pinned in their own end looking to find that last goal to tie the game up, but the Comets defense stepped up again late and kept the Wave from getting a clear chance at goal with Stokic getting the final block right as the clock hit zero to preserve the win.