The Chicago Soul (9-14) was hoping to avoid a series sweep against the Milwaukee Wave (18-3) but was halted in its comeback efforts in the fourth quarter, allowing the Wave to take a 15-10 victory behind Ian Bennett's hat trick Monday night at the Sears Centre Arena.
"It's really disappointing," Soul coach Novi Marojevic said. "We made great strides in the third quarter to come back, but simple mistakes cost us the game again. We made some bad decisions in crucial moments and we just couldn't finish."
Milwaukee jumped out to a lead on a goal by Tenzin Rampa two minutes into the first quarter. Luan Oliveira added a goal to push the Wave's lead to 4-0.
Bennett made it a 6-point Soul deficit in the second quarter before Chicago's Pablo finally put an end to the Wave's run when he blasted a ball into the net and cut Milwaukee's lead to 6-2 before the end of the half.
Second-half scoring opened with a second goal from Bennett, who capitalized on a power-play advantage to give his side an 8-2 advantage over the Soul. Carlos Farias was able to cut that lead in half when he fired from the corner on a feed by Aaron Nichols.
Farias struck again shortly after to bring the game within 2 points, and nearly a minute later, he found the equalizer and completed his hat trick to force a tie game heading into the final period.
Chicago was able to take its first lead of the game when Carlos Muņoz converted on a restart opportunity to make it 10-8 with about five minutes remaining. But Milwaukee answered on a goal from Nick Perera, and both teams were tied up again at 10-10.
The Wave regained its lead when Hewerton managed to net one with 2:41 left, and then extended the advantage to 15-10 on a 3-pointer credited to Bennett as the ball rolled into an empty net.
The Soul made attempts to catch up again using a sixth attacker but fell short, allowing the Wave to sweep the six-game series.
"Frustration is definitely a factor with this team," Marojevic said of his squad's woes with the Wave. "It affects them a lot. I think they realize that these are big games for us and that we are fighting for a spot in the playoffs, which is causing them to make mental mistakes. They have to learn to stay calm, focused, and just play simple."
The Soul hits the road to take on the Missouri Comets on Friday at 7:35 p.m. The team returns home Wednesday, Feb. 27, to host the Comets at the Sears Centre Arena. Kickoff is 7 p.m.