Whenever the top two teams in a league meet, it is always going to be seen as a test of which team is really the best. When those two teams are also undefeated, everyone wants to see who will fall, which team will get the edge on the season. Saturday night when the undefeated Baltimore Blast and Missouri Comets met, the whole league watched to see which team was really the best early in the season. In games like this it often comes down to a lucky bounce or in this case a hot player.
The game started with both teams feeling each other out. The Comets and Blast went scoreless through the first quarter with both Danny Waltman for the Comets and Troy Hernandez for the Blast coming up big in goal multiple times. When the quarter ended scoreless, it seemed to bode well for the home team. The Blast had played the night before and the Comets have played better later in the game in each of their matches this year.
The second quarter was more of the same. Every shot was turned away or wide until less than six minutes left in the quarter. Machel Millwood broke it open when he scored on a turning blast. Adriano Dos Santos and Nunez quickly followed it up to add goals within a three-minute span to put the Blast (7-0) on top 6-0 as the teams went into the half.
Even being down six at half did not seem to faze the Comets, they had been behind in every game up to this one and came back to win including the 13-0 deficit in their home opener. Vahid Assadpour gave the Missouri fans hope when he scored on a restart at the 2:47 mark but the Comets did not catch fire like they did on previous nights.
“We just fell into that hole and couldn’t work our way out,” Comets forward Byron Alvarez explained. “As soon as Vahid scored that first goal we thought we were going to come out and get another one and another one and another but it just didn’t happen.”
It didn’t happen but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The Comets did start to gain more control and develop more shots but while they had to push the game, the Blast could sit and counter and punish every mistake as experienced teams do. Despite the Comets getting the edge in play, the Blast added two more goals in the third and one early in the fourth to go up 12-2.
With nothing to lose, Comets Coach Kim Roentved inserted Assadpour as the sixth attacker in place of Waltman in goal early in the fourth. The Comets controlled the ball and generated a number of chances but Hernandez was a magnet for the ball in the Blast goal. In the fourth quarter, the Comets created 16 shots, 14 on goal and the only ball to get past Hernandez was a penalty kick by Alvarez.
Comets coach Kim Roentved observed after the game, “I thought we played pretty well for the most part. Some of the players a little below average today but I still think we have to give Baltimore credit. They are a smart team, give them opportunities and they will penalize you for it. At the same time we missed a bunch of opportunities. Being down 6 – nil at half time, I don’t understand. It was nil – nil with 6 minutes to go or something like that and we had four or five very good chance to score goals, we just couldn’t put get it in the back of the net. It was a little bit of a combination of us not being able to finish and great goal tending. Then a couple mistakes in the second half and that is why it turned out to be a little misleading being down 12 – 2.”
Baltimore played a very good game against Missouri and the Comets were definitely not at their best but the biggest difference was Blast keeper Hernandez. The Comets put 24 shots on goal and the only ones he let by were a restart and penalty. “I’m speechless; I just did what I had to do,” Hernandez commented. “I went out focused, it was a big game for the team and I just wanted to keep our streak going.”
With the loss, the Comets fall to 4-1 while Baltimore stays perfect at 7-0. The Comets travel to New York to face the Syracuse Silver Knights Friday night and the Rochester Lancers Saturday.