PARK CITY — The Wichita Wings haven’t quite peaked, but coach LeBaron Hollimon believes they are close after their 14-8 Major Indoor Soccer League win over Syracuse on Friday night.
“I’m not going to say we’ve arrived yet because there are still some things we have to get better at,” he said. “What you are seeing is a team that is understanding their roles within the system that we are playing and it’s coming together.”
The Wings (4-6) tallied one win in their first six games of the season, but have now won three of their last four.
The team has many new faces, and added even more with the acquisition of Matt Clare and Andre Berenzon in November, so it’s taken time for the team to bond.
But now that it has, the confidence the team has is sky high.
“It’s awesome to know that the team is finally getting together,” forward Geison Moura said. “We didn’t start very good because a lot of players came from a lot of places and the coach is trying to implant his system. I think now everyone is starting to get it.”
Moura led the way with three goals, including the first two of the game.
Clare, playing against his old team for the second time, connected on a three-point goal midway through the first quarter to extend the lead.
“When I scored it was 7-0 and that puts their heads down and loses a little bit of hope for them,” Clare said. “It’s another goal. It helps the team win. Without that goal the momentum could have shifted and that could have changed the game.”
Syracuse (5-8) scored with two seconds to play in the first quarter thanks to a Nate Bourdeau goal. Wichita answered with a goal by Frederico Moojen less than 30 seconds into the second quarter to make it a 9-2 Wichita advantage.
The large lead allowed Wichita to settle in defensively for the rest of the game.
“We were able to jump out to the lead which allowed us to absorb some of their pressure later on,” Hollimon said. “We were always able to create chances and with our defending behind the ball, it didn’t cause any panic to set in.”
The panic would have been due to Syracuse’s fourth-quarter rally. After Syracuse added a sixth attacker with less than two minutes to play, Elmo Neto scored to cut the Wichita lead to 11-8.
That’s when Moura capped of his night with an empty-net goal with 40 seconds to play to preserve the six-point win for Wichita.
“I had three goals; somebody else could have had three goals,” Moura said. “Doesn’t matter who did. We put the work in defensively and we are seeing that it’s working.”
The Wings will have a chance to crack the top three of the MISL standings on Saturday night when they host Chicago (4-8). Hollimon isn’t ready to call it a must-win game for Wichita, but understands it’s a game not to take for granted.
“I think it’s a little premature to say it’s a must win,” he said. “But given the parameters of it — it’s at home against a team that is lower than us in the table — you can say we should win.
“But it’s not going to be an easy game at all.”
Scoring—Wichita, Geison (Sanaldo), 2:40; Wichita, Geison (Tiguinho), 6:34; Wichita, Clare (3pt) (unassisted), 9:43; Syracuse, Bourdeau (Budnyy), 14:58. Penalties—None
Scoring—Wichita, Moojen (unassisted), 0:28. Penalties—Syracuse, Neto (striking), 6:22.
Scoring—Syracuse, Neto (unassisted), 3:01; Wichita, Tiguinho (powerplay) (unassisted), 12:23. Penalties—Syracuse, Chantel (tripping), 10:30; Syracuse, Chantel (misconduct), 12:23; Wichita, Quiroz (boarding), 13:56.
Scoring—Syracuse, Bourdeau (Budnyy), 2:23; Syracuse, Neto (unassisted), 13:42; Wichita, Geison (3pt) (unassisted), 14:20. Penalties—Wichita, Ferrer (striking), 3:09
Shots—Syracuse, 2-0-3-6—11; Wichita 4-3-2-5—14
Goalies—Syracuse, O’Quinn 8 saves on 14 shots; Wichita, Carvalho 7 saves on 11 shots.