This is supposed to be my yearly entry about how the Wave is heading into the MISL Championship game, and the rah-rah that accompanies it. I also throw in a comment about making sure you get to the game, and how great the whole thing is.
And then yesterday happened.
But first a little backstory...
After winning 16 consecutive games during the season, the Wave embarked on a five-game road swing (thanks to the Shrine Circus being in town) with a 17-2 record. After breaking their winning streak in Kansas City, (then a win in Chicago) the Wave's hopes of winning the regular season and top playoff seed took a downward turn in Baltimore and Rochester on consecutive days. Suddenly, Baltimore had the tie-breaker, and there was no way for the Wave to win the regular season title.
Had the Wave won gotten the top seed, they would have played Chicago in the playoffs... the same Chicago team in which the Wave had swept the six game season series. Instead the Wave got to play the #3 seeded Comets (with whom they split the season series 2-2).
In Game 1 in the greater Kansas City area last Thursday, the Wave got off to a slow start and was down 10-0 just into the third period. The light bulb went on, the Comets went into their prevent defense (and as we know from the NFL, the prevent defense prevents you from winning) and allowed the Wave to not only come back to tie the game at 10, but then the Wave scored in OT for the game winner.
The Wave just needed to win one game yesterday; either the regularly-scheduled Game 2, or the tie-breaking "mini-game" Game 3 (which is only one 15 minute quarter).
Game 2 was going smoothly, with the Wave leading for most of the game, though not necessarily in control. With a minute or two left in the game, the Comets pulled the GK in place of field player Vahid Assadpour wearing the extra attacker jersey. Though trying to hold on for dear life, the Comets Leo Gibson scored with 37 seconds remaining to take a one-point lead at 9-8. Wave then put in their extra attacker, Joe Hammes, but couldn't score and the game ended with the Comets taking Game 2.
The Game 3 mini-game had the Comets Coady Andrews scoring a 3-point goal, and even after goals by the Wave's Luan Sales Oliviera and Hewerton made the score 4-3, the Wave was never in control.
It was looking promising, though, when (again with Vahid Assadpour as the Comets extra attacker) the Wave defense made a stand and knocked a shot out of play with 0:07 to play. All the Wave had to do was to defend one little ol' corner kick, and they'd be on their way to the Finals match-up against Baltimore.
The photos (From Cory Zimmermann, as posted on the Wave's Facebook page) below tell the story. The Comets took their corner kick from the right corner, and played it forward to the Comet's Byron Alvarez.
In this top photo, Alvarez (#23 in red) has already gotten the ball past a sliding Wave defender JP Rodrigues and through the legs of Wave defender Joe Hammes.
And as the ball keeps rolling, it goes through the legs of Wave defender Josh Rife and Wave GK Marcel Feenstra. One shot, around and through four defenders, and the forutnes of two teams change.
In the words of Wave PA guy, the immortal "Dammit Man" McNeil, "Missouri Comets goal..." as his voice trailed off.
The Comets go to the MISL Championship Finals, and the Wave considers what could've been.
But even though the season is over, its not all bad...
- The Wave found a budding superstar in Luan Sales Oliviera, who was 7th in the league in scoring with 68 points (and had the most points of any rookie).
- Forwards Ian Bennett and Hewerton came on very strong late in the season, and combined with Oliviera gives the Wave the better part of two solid lines.
- The Wave had an average attendance of 5,068 (a 28% increase from last season), which is their highest in nine seasons since they moved from the Bradley Center to the Arena.
- The Wave's 16 game winning streak was the longest in their 29 year history.
- I won a 50/50 raffle for over $400 at one game... which was the highest all season.
Not every team can win a championship each year; as a matter of fact, math dictates that only one team can win each year. This year wasn't the Wave's year.
But the saying, as Chicago Cubs fans know so well, holds true... "Wait till next year".