The Milwaukee Wave remained red-hot Saturday night, holding off the visiting Kansas City Comets 7-5 to clinch a Major Arena Soccer League playoff berth.
Max Ferdinand scored twice and boosted his league-leading assist total to 30, while Ian Bennett retained his spot atop the MASL scoring table with his 50th and 51st goals of the season for the Wave (13-6).
Milwaukee won for the ninth time in its past 10 games and improved to 8-1 on its home turf at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
The Wave close out the regular season March 5 at home against the Chicago Mustangs, then will play the Comets (14-5) in the Central Division playoffs – Game 1 is March 9 in Independence, Mo., with Game 2 and the Game 3 mini-game tiebreaker, if necessary, scheduled for 2:05 p.m. March 12 in Milwaukee.
A crowd of 3,525 on Saturday night saw the home side score three times in a 3-minute, 22-second span just before halftime to seize control. Goals by Hans Denissen, Ferdinand and Bennett turned a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 lead, and the Wave led the rest of the way.
Kansas City pulled within one in the third and fourth quarters, the final time with 41 seconds left in regulation, but goals by Ferdinand and Bennett restored Milwaukee's two-goal advantage each time. Goalkeeper Josh Lemos finished with 14 saves for the Wave.
Bennett is one goal ahead of Baja Atletico's Christian Gutierrez and two in front of Sonora's Franck Tayou in the MASL goal-scoring race; however, Gutierrez and Tayou each have two matches remaining while Bennett has just one.
This is just the 11th 50-goal season by a Wave player in the team's 33-year history; the most recent player to accomplish the feat was Greg Howes, who had 57 goals in 36 matches in the 2003-04 season. Michael King has six of those seasons and holds the franchise record with 72 goals in 38 games in the 1996-97 season.