There is perhaps something admirable about a soccer player who, with his team desperately needing a goal, purposely knocks one in with his hand on the slim chance no official will notice.
The nobility of the act suffers in the midst of several other penalties that happen as the result of a team losing its composure and leads to further unraveling.
Geison Moura’s handball goal for the Wings, of course, didn’t count, and for the second straight game Wichita failed to hold on to an early lead against Missouri, falling to the Comets 19-10 Sunday afternoon at Hartman Arena. Wichita trailed 14-10 before pulling its goalie late, leading to two empty-net goals.
The loss of a 4-0 lead Sunday wasn’t nearly as catastrophic as Wichita surrendering a 13-0 advantage to Missouri on Friday on the road, but the Wings’ home opener offered further evidence that Wichita is unable to right itself after losing momentum.
"We lack discipline," Wings coach LeBaron Hollimon said. "Giving up stupid two-minute penalties. Lack of defensive discipline, giving up two-on-none, three-on-one breakaways. We’ve got to be more disciplined."
The Wings’ undoing began in early in the second quarter, when goalkeeper Sanaldo Carvalho was penalized for elbowing a Missouri player inside the goalie box. The call was disputed by multiple Wings players, and they were delayed in regaining their collective composure.
Watching Bryon Alvarez put in the penalty kick didn’t support those efforts, but neither did the Wings themselves. Alex Moseley was whistled for a misconduct penalty in the second quarter and defender Kevin Ten Eyck drew the ire of officials for arguing multiple calls.
The discipline issues reached a peak midway through the third when Moura, streaking down the right side of the field while the ball was being played on the left, was the recipient of a rebound that bounced near his chest. He pushed the ball in with his hand then acted incredulously when he was immediately penalized.
At that point, the Wings’ only score in about 24 minutes was a shootout goal by Moura. That stretch would last until Andrew Hoxie completed his second straight hat trick about two minutes into the fourth.
"We’re just not coming together collectively yet on the defensive side," Hoxie said. "We’re scoring goals, but we’re just letting too many goals go in. We had about four blue cards, three of which were pretty unnecessary. It’s the little things that are keeping us from being on the winning side of a game.
"It’s tangible. We’re just losing our heads at certain moments. Too many people on the field, silly fouls, scoring goals with our hands. We know this stuff, we’re just not doing it yet. It’s a process."
Missouri scored a pair of power-play goals in the third quarter, during which it outscored the Wings 6-2, stretching an 8-6 lead to 14-8.
Playing a man short did no favors to the Wings’ defense, which often couldn’t keep up with the Comets’ playmakers, resulting in numerous breakaways. Defender Chris Lemons and Carvalho made athletic stops in the goalie box, but the Wings were unable to match Missouri’s top-to-bottom athleticism.
Hoxie’s second three-goal performance once again took a backseat to Wichita’s collective failures, which include the lack of offense from returning players. Newcomers have accounted for 23 of Wichita’s 25 points, with top returners such as Jamar Beasley and Freddie Moojen starting slowly.
"Mentally we’re a little fragile right now," Hollimon said. "We’re a little beat down right now. But we can’t sit back and have a pity party for ourselves, that’s not going to be the answer, either. We’ve got to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get back at it."
Scoring—Wichita, Hoxie (Perez), :38; Wichita, Hoxie (Lemons), 5:28; Missouru, Falck (Stokic); Missouri, Assadpour SH (Harris) 11:19; Wichita, Perez (Lemons), 13:47; Missouri, John (Falck), 14:45.
Scoring—Missouri, Alvarez (penalty kick), 2:50.
Scoring—Missouri, Alvarez (Gibson), :36; Wichita, Moura (shootout), 2:00; Missouri, Rodriguez PP (Assadpour), 7:59; Missouri, Gibson (unassisted), 10:20.
Scoring—Wichita, Hoxie (Moojen), 2:03; Missouri, Assadpour 3-pt (unassisted, empty net), 12:00; Missouri, Harris (unassisted, empty net), 1:27.