PARK CITY — With less than five minutes to play, leading by three points and given a power-play opportunity, the Wichita Wings all but had the soccer game wrapped up Saturday night.
Then the unthinkable happened.
Missouri’s Ramone Palmer got behind Wichita’s defense and put a shot past goalkeeper Sanaldo to make it a one-point game.
“We have to put this away,” Sanaldo said. “We have to eliminate this kind of mistake at the end of the game. This can hurt us. Fortunately, we stepped up and shut them out the (rest of the game).”
Sanaldo needed to make a couple more saves in the final minutes to preserve the Wings’ 12-11 win.
The win comes six days after Missouri defeated Wichita 24-11 in Independence, Mo.
“The biggest difference was we matched them for effort today,” Wings coach LeBaron Hollimon said. “I think up there they showed a great enthusiasm and effort and we didn’t match that.”
The teams looked destined to finish the first quarter scoreless on Saturday, before Missouri’s Leo Gibson scored on a Comet power play with four seconds to go, the first of his three goals.
Wings defender Kevin Ten Eyck answered less than two minutes into the second quarter to tie the game, the first of three consecutive goals for Wichita.
The Wings led 6-4 at halftime.
Missouri, which outshot the Wings 23-18, kept attacking in the second half and took a lead at 9-8 following Vahid Assadpour’s three-point goal midway through the quarter.
“As hard as we defend, a team like (Missouri), they are very good at shooting,” Hollimon said. “They shoot from everywhere. So there will be chances where we aren’t defending it well. And that’s where (Sanaldo’s) shot stopping and expertise was brilliant. He bailed us out several times.”
Sanaldo said he was only at 70 percent after practice on Friday, but was determined not to miss the game because of its importance.
“We were working on a lot of stuff and by the end of practice I got hurt in my elbow,” he said. “The team played brilliant in front of me. The five guys played big.”
Sanaldo’s 18 saves helped get the Wings a win that put them back in better shape for the Major Indoor Soccer League playoffs.
The top four teams make the playoffs in the seven-team league, and Missouri is one of the teams Wichita is battling for those final playoff spots with less than half the season remaining.
“It’s midway through the season, but you are saying that every game has huge implications right now,” Hollimon said. “That’s why it’s very important that we pick up results against those teams that we are competing against for third and fourth place.”
Wichita’s six goals were scored by six players, including the first MISL goal for Adrian Gonzalez, who was picked up by Wichita on Jan. 3.
Scoring—Missouri, Gibson (powerplay) (unassisted), 14:56. Penalties—Wichita, Quiroz (four fouls), 13:03.
Scoring—Wichita, Ten Eyck (unassisted), 1:46; Wichita, Ferrer (Moseley), 5:08; Wichita, Worley (unassisted), 11:53; Missouri, Gibson (unassisted), 12:50. Penalties—Moojen (four fouls), 14:32.
Scoring—Missouri, Gibson (powerplay) (Sosa), 0:15; Wichita, Gonzalez (unassisted), 2:14; Missouri, Assadpour (3pt) (unassisted), 7:00; Wichita, Berenzon (unassisted), 8:56. Penalties—Missouri, Andrews (holding), 3:45; Wichita, Gonzalez (illegal sub), 6:47; Wichita, Quiroz (striking), 9:27; Missouri, Alvarez (tripping), 11:27.
Scoring—Wichita, Quiroz (Tiguinho), 6:47; Missouri, Palmer (shorthanded) (unassisted), 10:42. Penalties—Missouri, Alvarez (charging goaltender), 9:03; Missouri, Alvarez (misconduct), 9:03; Missouri, Alvarez (violent conduct), 9:03.
Shots—Missouri 8-2-8-5—23; Wichita 2-6-6-4—18
Goalies—Missouri, Pardo, 12 saves on 18 shots; Wichita, Sanaldo, 18 saves on 23 shots