Rusty Troy's eyes lighted up when the ball came bouncing off the glass to him on the left side of the goal, 30 feet out. He was all alone with 38 seconds left and the score tied at 7.
The Baltimore Blast forward went into action and hit one of hipatented line-drive shots into the net, sending the Blast on its way to a 9-7 victory over the Dallas Sidekicks last night before 6,144 at the Baltimore Arena.
"In this game, you just try to get yourself in position," said Troywho had been struggling offensively before getting two goals in the fourth quarter last night. "Everybody else was on the other side of the net but me. I was in the right place at the right time."
The Blast also got three goals from Mike Stankovic and twgoals from Mark Mettrick.
Baltimore defender Richard Chinapoo scored a goal from 70 feeand had two assists. The victory was sweet for Chinapoo, who played for Dallas the past two seasons.
After Troy gave Baltimore (5-5) an 8-7 edge, Tim Wittman addeNTC an insurance goal with two seconds left when he chipped the ball over Dallas (4-6) sixth attacker Beto.
Before Troy broke the 7-7 tie, the Sidekicks had an excellenchance to take the lead with 1 minute, 25 seconds remaining.
Tatu, the Major Soccer League's leading scorer, with 16 goaland 14 assists, broke loose for a one-on-one opportunity against Blast goalkeeper Scott Manning.
Tatu took the ball straight at Manning and fired from point-blanrange, but Manning rejected the shot with great reflexes, even though he was playing his first game in more than four weeks.
"That was a great save by Scott," said Blast coach KennCooper. "He gave us a chance to win the game. At first, I wasn't going to play Scott [recovering from a sprained ankle], but I talked to his wife [Cathy] today, and she told me Scott has been like a caged tiger lately. So I said, 'We'll let him go.'"
Manning said: "I've been wanting to get out there for more than week now. But I didn't exactly do a whole lot to give my teammates confidence in me. I should have held their third goal, and I let their fourth goal go through my legs."
The third and fourth Dallas goals came during a 4-0 third-quarterun that tied the game at 6 at the end of the period.
"I need to play a lot better," said Manning. "The only way I calook at this game is from the standpoint that we won."
Manning got a lot of defensive help from six-time MSL All-Stadefender Bruce Savage, who held Tatu (five goals, five assists in his past two games) to one assist.
"I fronted him, tried to deny him the ball and got a lot of help,said Savage. "Every now and then, you're going to get lucky and stop a guy like Tatu."
Tatu said: "He [Savage] completely dominated me from start tthe end. I couldn't do anything or get the ball in a good position. Savage is a great player."
Stankovic, who has seven points in the past three games, said iwas time for him to break loose.
"I was tired of losing," said Stankovic. "I don't have a good timwhen we lose. I feel miserable."
Chinapoo said he was "joking" the entire evening with his formeDallas teammates.
"It was a good time for me," said Chinapoo. "I like to beat Dallasbut there was no animosity."
Troy, whose first goal in the fourth quarter gave Baltimore a 7-lead, said he can't relax even a little.
"This doesn't solidify my position on the team," said Troy. "I stilhave to work hard to prove myself."