INDEPENDENCE — Even to those on the inside, the Chanute Blue Comets soccer team remains an enigma.
After the Independence Bulldogs unleashed a 4-1 shellacking at home on the Blue Comets, Chanute head coach Adam Wilcox found himself at a crossroads without a map.
“I don’t know,” Wilcox said. “I don’t know if we’re a sloppy team that plays well every now and then, or if we’re a good team that plays sloppy every now and then. It is 50/50. I just don’t know. It’s not even game-to-game sometimes. It’s minute-to-minute on some of the stuff.”
The Blue Comets are a revamped team compared to the squad that drew Independence, 1-1, in the season-opener — new formation, different lineup, unique style of play — but Thursday night’s performance encapsulates the struggles this team has faced all season.
This Chanute team is a group that has grazed its ceiling.
The Blue Comets earned the program’s first-ever win over the Class 5A Pittsburg Purple Dragons a month ago.
They followed that performance up with another victory over Pittsburg on the road earlier this week.
They’ve outscored Columbus 17-0 in two matches.
Then the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the program takes over on other nights.
A 2-0 loss at home to a struggling Fort Scott team. Handing Parsons one of its only victories of the season. Settling for a 0-0 tie against a Paola unit with a dozen losses.
“We just couldn’t quite take that last step of putting plans into action,” Wilcox said. “This game was kind of like our whole season; we looked really good in parts and looked really sloppy in parts.”
The Blue Comets brightest moment came midway through the first half when senior Kaleb Becannon collected a deflected ball near the top of the Independence box and chipped an arching shot over the Bulldogs to bring Chanute level, 1-1.
A string of top-corner rockets from Independence — one late in the first half and a pair in the second half — demolished any chance the Blue Comets had at getting in rhythm for a comeback.
“When we slowed down and held possession and found great balls, we looked awesome,” Wilcox said. “When we hustled, we looked good. When we didn’t, it looked bad. I don’t know what kind of team we are.”
With only two matches left in the regular season, Wilcox is still seeking a solution for his team’s identity before the postseason begins.
“It makes me very nervous to not really know what to expect,” Wilcox said. “We’re up and down. We could be anywhere from a six seed to probably a 12 seed.”
The Blue Comets (6-6-2) will travel to face the Fort Scott Tigers (6-9-0) on Tuesday for a decisive third match after the two teams each notched a win against each other this season.