Greg Ion wasn’t shooting, he was passing. But Ion’s pass deflected off the foot of Socker defender George Fernandez and into the goal with 2 minutes 26 seconds left in overtime Friday night, giving the Kansas City Comets a 3-2 victory at Kemper Arena.
The loss ended the Sockers’ two-game winning streak and dropped them to 18-15, four games behind the league-leading Baltimore Blast, whom they will play tonight. The Comets (14-18) won their third in a row and moved into a tie for fifth place with Tacoma in the Major Indoor Soccer League.
Eight of the Sockers’ losses this year have been in overtime.
The Comets had lost three consecutive overtime games, but that streak ended largely because of Ion’s end-to-end rush with the ball.
“It was a pass for (Dale) Mitchell,” Ion said of his 18th goal of the season and second overtime game-winner.
“I got the ball from David (Brcic), pushed it past (Waad) Hirmez and I was surprised to see I was at the end of (the play). I cut the ball behind a defender, trying to get it back in the middle for Dale. It hit Fernandez and went in the net.”
As the ball rested behind San Diego’s Victor Nogueria, the MISL’s leading goalkeeper, Fernandez stood in the goal mouth, hands on his knees, staring at the ground.
“It went off my toe . . . just hard luck,” Fernandez said. “They worked harder. . . . I beat the No. 1 goalkeeper. Not too many people can do that.”
The Comets outshot the Sockers, 10-2, in the overtime and only Nogueria’s goalkeeping kept San Diego in the game.
“From the halfway point on, we dominated and took control,” said Comets Coach Dave Clements, whose team has beaten San Diego two games in a row. “They had some chances but we had many more. Nogueria (25 saves) made some fantastic saves, and I was frightened that we had so much pressure that they would counter with a breakaway-type goal.”
Not the way the Sockers have played in overtime.
“Ion must be fitter than our lads,” Sockers Coach Ron Newman said. “He ran by every one of our guys.
“They seemed to have more stamina than we did. In overtime, we can’t drive ourselves when the going gets tough. In the overtime, we didn’t have a chance of winning the game. There’s not doubt Kansas City deserved it in the (overtime), but it was a fluke goal.”
Fernandez attributed the Sockers’ 2-8 overtime record to “lack of drive . . . no commitment. It’s like we’re happy to make it into the overtime and after that, it’s downhill.”
Dave Boncek appeared to have given the Comets the victory with 1:32 left in regulation when he scored off a pass from Iain Fraser.
At that point, the Sockers lifted Nogueria in favor of a sixth attacker--Kevin Crow--and just 38 seconds later, Hirmez, on a pass from Crow, tied it. It was Hirmez’s seventh goal in four games since he rejoined the Sockers in a trade with Los Angeles at the All-Star break.
The score was tied, 1-1, after three quarters as each team scored an unassisted goal. San Diego’s Alan Willey scored 2:34 into the first quarter, and David Doyle scored 7:07 into the third quarter for Kansas City.
The Sockers missed an opportunity to take the lead late in the third quarter when they were awarded a penalty kick because the Comets’ Gino Schiraldi was called for tripping Willey in the penalty area.
But Brcic stopped Branko Segota’s penalty kick with a kick save, and Kansas City killed the 2-minute penalty.
The Sockers claimed Brcic was in violation of moving before the shot.
“David was miles off the goal line,” Newman said.
Aware that only 13 of 39 penalty kicks have been successful since the MISL moved the penalty spot from 24 to 34 feet this season, Newman said, “Either we make it right . . . these are the rules. There’s never a save in these. He should have had it over again.”
Segota, now one of four in penalty kicks this season, said, “The guy was out there a yard before I even took the shot.”