Magic smother Piasa in debut

Richard Kelly / Washburn Review

A slow start gave way to a strong finish on Saturday for the Kansas Magic’s exhibition match.

But maybe the more important story was how Saturday’s events may affect the indoor soccer team coming to the Kansas Expocentre permanently.

With an estimated attendance of 1,500 to 1,900 fans, the Magic took to the field Saturday night in an exhibition game against the Illinois Piasa, winning 7-3 and attempting to showcase what their team can bring to the Expocentre.

B.J. Latas, Magic owner, said despite wanting 4,000 fans and coming up short, he was overall happy with Saturday’s outcome.

“I’m satisfied. It was a good game,” said Latas. “I know we can get more people here, we just need time to do it. We have a great team and we just want to showcase professional talent here in Topeka.”

With 2:59 left in the 15-minute first quarter, Kansas struck first as Colin Bulwich ripped a shot into the back of the net. Early in the second quarter, Illinois notted the score but Chaz O’Dell and Matt Klaus answered for the Magic, as they headed into halftime leading 3-1.

Despite scoring just once in the first quarter and three times in the half, Nick Garcia, a former Major League Soccer player, thought the Magic came out with good tempo.

“I thought our start was fantastic,” said Garcia. “Obviously we didn’t have a few extra goals like we could’ve and should’ve had but we stood strong and persevered here at the end.”

In the second half, Kansas never surrendered the lead despite Illinois clawing with one goal before Kansas struck for three straight goals to finish the contest. Kansas had five different goal scorers, with Klaus registering two.

While effort had much to do with their victory, fans also maintained involvement throughout the contest.

“It was great to see a lot of people out here cheering,” said Randall Porter, Magic coach. “I think that helped us, as well. We’re very excited about the future possibilities based on tonight’s attendance and the way we played.”

Porter also knows that the opportunity to house a team in Topeka isn’t definite, but he hopes Saturday was a step in the right direction.

“It’s out of my hands what happens,” said Randall Porter, Magic coach.

“But I hope that tonight showed we play exciting, good soccer and people will come out and watch. What happens in the future is out of my hands. I hope we’re here but it’s for someone else to answer, not me.”