WICHITA, Kan. -- The Baltimore Blast, known for its defense, got burned by Dale Ervine and the Wichita Wings last night, losing its Major Soccer League season opener, 8-3, at the Kansas Coliseum.
Ervine scored two goals and assisted on two others, as the Wings jumped to a 5-1 lead en route to their seventh straight home-opener victory. And the Wings' defense starred.
Wichita (1-1) stopped Baltimore on two of three power-play opportunities and a shootout. The Wings packed in the defense after gaining the big lead; the Blast never got closer than two goals in the second half.
Blast coach Kenny Cooper was not happy with his defense. FTC "We've got to be tougher defensively," he said. "We got burned one-one-one, giving them too much room.
"Defensively, we played on our heels. They [the Wings] put their chances away, but we added to that, which is uncharacteristic of our defense."
Wichita took its 5-1 lead on a power-play goal by Omar Gomez with 1 minute, 9 seconds gone in the second half. But Baltimore scored two goals to cut the lead to 5-3.
Former Wing Mike Stankovic blasted a 55-footer from past the red line 17 seconds after the goal by Gomez. Bruce Savage cut the deficit to two when he knocked in a missed header by Wichita defender Chico Moreira near the Wichita goal.
Brad Smith scored on a long pass from Wichita goalkeeper Ron Fearon to push the Wings' lead to 6-3. Baltimore failed on its second straight power-play opportunity, which expired at the beginning of the fourth period.
Ervine danced around Baltimore goalkeeper Scott Manning before scoring on the shootout that gave the Wings a 7-3 lead with 12 minutes to play. Manning was called for using his hands outside the goal area.
Rookie Steve Pittman scored his second goal of the game on a rebound pass for the final margin. Fearon finished with 14 saves, but the fronting defense deflected most of the Blast's shots.
The defense had given up 10 goals Friday in a loss to the St. Louis Storm, but Fearon said his team was ready last night.
"We broke down defensively [Friday night], and it was importan tonight to pick that up. We kept them out at the right times and got a couple of early goals, which gave us a lift."
In the first half, Wichita surprised Baltimore's defense by twice scoring two goals in a minute span. Manning, too, worked as hard to control teammates' errant return passes as he did stopping shots.
Richard Chinapoo typified Baltimore's struggles. He could have tied the score on a shootout, but his soft shot was blocked by Fearon.