Ian Bennett recorded his seventh hat trick of the season and veteran Marcio Leite scored in his season debut as the Milwaukee Wave continued their strong second-half surge with an 8-2 victory over the Cedar Rapids Rampage in front of a crowd of 4,165 on Sunday afternoon at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
Goalkeeper Josh Lemos made 15 saves, and 10 of the Wave's 13 field players ended up on the scoresheet with at least one goal or assist in the balanced attack that powered Milwaukee (12-6) to its eighth win in nine games.
The Wave are 1 1/2 games behind the Kansas City Comets (13-4) and a half-game ahead of the Rampage (11-6) in the Major Arena Soccer League's Central Division with two matches left in their regular-season schedule, both at home: against the Comets at 7:35 p.m. Saturday and against the Chicago Mustangs on March 5. The top two teams in each of the MASL's four divisions qualify for the eight-team playoffs.
Bennett opened the scoring 2 minutes, 6 seconds into the game, and the home side led 5-0 after Leite's power-play goal 6:25 into the second half. Cedar Rapids pulled back within three at 5-2, but Bennett answered with two goals in a 1:21 span late in the fourth quarter – both assisted by defender Tenzin Rampa (Madison West/UW-Milwaukee) – to seal the Wave's seventh win in eight home matches this season.
Bennett continues to lead the MASL with 49 goals, two ahead of Baja Atletico's Christian Gutierrez, and now has 211 goals in his 168 career regular-season games with Milwaukee, an average of 1.26 per game. The Wave's Max Ferdinand was held without an assist for the second straight match, but still leads the league with 28, nine ahead of the Comets' duo of John Sosa and Leo Gibson.