The Orlando SeaWolves recent road trip was a trip in every sense of the word.
It was a little good, a little bad, but now they get to come home for the weekend and try to move up in the Major Arena Soccer League standings.
The next two games for the SeaWolves (7-9 with eight matches left) are back at home in the Silver Spurs Arena, Friday against the Florida Tropics and Saturday against the Kansas City Comets at 7 p.m. Tonight is a St. Patrick's Day celebration, and Saturday is Faith and Family Night.
The team split a pair of games in Kansas City and Milwaukee last weekend.
Coach Tom Traxler said postseason hopes ride on a good showing at home this weekend.
“We’ve put ourselves in a decent position. This weekend is pivotal,” he said. “We need to win both home games. It comes down to the mentality of it, being mentally strong and knowing what to do.”
After conceding a 2-0 deficit heading into halftime Friday in Kansas City, the Orlando SeaWolves scored six goals in the second half, three of them coming from defender Richard Schmermund, leading Orlando to a come-from-behind 6-4 win.
The Comets started quick, scoring a goal within four minutes of the opening kick, forcing Orlando to chase the rest of the first quarter, then Comets were able to add a second just two minutes before halftime, sending the SeaWolves to the locker room with a 2-0 deficit.
Thanks to Schmermund, the lead didn’t last. The SeaWolves cut into the lead just two minutes into the second half, when Schmermund rocketed one off a free kick into the back of the net to halve the deficit, then two minutes later he smashed another one into the corner. But Kansas City eventually scored the last goal of the quarter with just 11 seconds left to send them to the final 15 minutes up 3-2.
Schmermund said he could tell the team was willing to put the game on his leg.
“After the first two everybody was like, ‘Man, shoot it, shoot it!,’” he said. “From there I told myself I was going to score. I got the open lane and I took it.”
“It was brilliant. We all know Schmers has a cannon in his left leg,” Traxler said. “Not too many people can get in front of it, which opens up a lot of other things.”
The teams traded blows early in the fourth quarter. Elmo Neto scored one four minutes into the quarter to tie the game, but James Togbah for the Comets put them back ahead just three minutes later — but it was their final goal.
SeaWolves’ scoring leader Gordy Gurson, playing in the 100th MASL game of his career, finally got his first of the game off an assist from Schmermund to tie the game, then Schmermund himself blasted one from the top of the arc to give Orlando a 5-4 lead with four minutes to go The Comets went with a sixth attacker to try and tie the game, but good pressure from the SeaWolves paid off, as Eduardo Cruz created a turnover, fed newly-signed midfielder Bobby Hurwitz and he tapped in the clinch, giving Orlando the 6-4 win.
The team left the Comets’ arena immediately from the game in rental cars, drove nine hours straight to Milwaukee and played the South Central Division leading Wave (16-3) less than 24 hours after the win in Kansas City.
The weary travelers came up against a well-rested Wave that took advantage of Orlando’s situation — early and after — on Saturday, and the SeaWolves lost, 13-2.
Gurson (24 goals, 15 assists) and Osvaldo Rojas (16 and 5), the SeaWolves’ second-leading scorer managed to score in the game, but eight different players scored for the Wave, and the SeaWolves were outshot 34-14.
“That was probably the toughest trip I’ve had in this league,” Schmermund said.
For his three-goal effort on Friday, Schmermund earned a spot on the MASL Team of the Week.