by Lisa Sillaway

The first games in the MASL Central Cup preseason tournament are complete and the Wichita Wings came away with a solid and impressive win in their first outing. In an exciting and physical match-up Saturday, complete with plenty of fouls and penalties, the Wings defeated the St. Louis Ambush 8-3 in Missouri.

Later in the day, rival Kansas City Comets took down the Dallas Sidekicks 8-3, with Brazilian-born Lucas Sousa (whom the Comets loaned to the Wings last season),  chipping in a pair of goals in the winning effort.  The Wings will take on Kansas City Dec. 20 in the tournament.

In St. Louis, Taylor Henry led the offense and was one of two Wichita players to get a hat trick in the win. Newcomer Eduardo "Benji" Monreal had the second. Additional scoring help came from Alex Moseley and Peter Espinosa, who each posted a goal. On the Ambush side, Duduca Carvalho, Stefan Mijatovic and Ado Jahic each scored a goal.

"Two hat tricks is fantastic for us," said Coach Roger Downing. "It shows that we don’t rely on one guy to do all our scoring.  Super proud of Taylor Henry and his effort today."

Henry was equally enthusiastic about the win. And the hat trick.

"It felt amazing," said Henry. "Coach had all the confidence in me - I just had to go out and execute. Can’t describe how great it feels."

Despite the high number of goals scored, Henry said the game was all about the defense.

"Our defense made our offense easy today. We worked our butts off and stuck to the game plan and played our game," Taylor said. "This was a big team win! We played great today, but there is still a lot we need to work on. We can’t wait to get back out there!"

Monreal, who played against the Wings last season with the Chihuahua Savage, had a stunning Wings debut with the three goals and another assist.

Monreal is looking forward to wearing the Orange on the Wings' home turf and Managing Partner Blake Shumaker said that Benji had already made a huge impression on the team and on the fans.

"He was brilliant in all aspects of the game for Chihuahua... That said, the most impressive thing for us was that he came to the concourse afterwards to thank Wings fans for an electric atmosphere," said Shumaker.

Coach Downing agrees.

"Benji is an excellent addition for us, he’s extremely creative and dynamic on the ball.  He’s learning to compete and defend with our group and has gelled well effortlessly," said Downing.

in addition to a strong showing in the net, the Wings' penalty killing unit was a machine, going two-for-two.

"Kevin Ten Eyck is a fantastic anchor getting everyone organized, and the guys commit and lay out for every shot," said Downing.

On the other side of the penalties, Downing added the Wings used their power play to try to slow down the game a bit, since the Orange were comfortably in the lead.

There was a quick pivot this morning from last night's game to the future of the team. Team tryouts are underway on the Wichita Wings' new practice field. Located in Bel Aire, Kan.  (N. Webb Rd &  254 Highway), the new field, complete with boards and turf, is set to get a workout during two days of intensive tryouts. Downing said he was looking forward to seeing the new faces.

"We have kept training sessions small with our core guys, and told any/everyone that wants to come out that they HAVE to go through tryouts to keep it fair to everyone," said Downing.

If the potential players want a spot on the roster, there is one thing they have to have. A strong work ethic.

"The thing about our team is we are going to compete night in and night out," said Downing. "I would take this group's work rate and commitment to compete over anyone in the country."


The six-game series began Saturday and will continue through Dec. 20, with the final game in Wichita, Kansas at Hartman Arena. Ticket sale information for the Dec. 18  matchup versus the Dallas Sidekicks and the Dec. 20 finale against old rival Kansas City will be announced Monday or Tuesday. Team management is relying on guidance and regulations from Sedgwick County before proceeding with ticket sales and a decision is expected sometime Monday, December 14.


The Major Arena Soccer League represents the highest level of professional arena soccer in the world. The MASL features teams across North America, with teams playing coast-to-coast in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The MASL is currently incorporated as a 501(c)6 not for profit corporation formed to promote the business and sport of arena soccer.