TACOMA, Wash. -- The Baltimore Blast, with a chance to grab a share of the Major Soccer League East lead, dropped a 5-4 overtime match to the Tacoma Stars last night.
Tacoma, 12-6 and leading the West, has beaten Baltimore five times in a row here, dating to March 12, 1989 and all three times they've played this season.
Tacoma won the see-saw game despite a hat trick by the Blast's Dale Mitchell, when, after a scoreless fourth quarter, Kia kicked in a rebound from point-blank range after Blast goalkeeper Scott Manning nicely saved a hard drive by Tacoma's Billy Crook at 2 minutes, 52 seconds of overtime.
Tacoma's Walter Schmetzer, then the Blast's Mike Stankovic hit ZTC the post before Mitchell gave the Blast a 1-0 lead. He got a tap-in at the right post off David Vaudreul's nice diagonal pass through traffic from left wing.
But the Stars struck back quickly to build a 2-1 lead.
At 12:28, Manning made a tough save of a rocket by Gary Heale, but Mark Karpun was there to put in a 15-foot rebound.
Baltimore's Angelo Panzetta was called for holding Tacoma's Nikki Ristic at 13:57, and Tacoma converted the power play.
Again, Manning made a diving save of a Heale shot, but Schmetzer's low drive rebound from 12 feet found the open net at 14:51.
Mitchell got the tying goal 36 seconds into the second period, his low shot bouncing off the near post and goalkeeper Todd Strobeck's back, the assist to Tim Wittman.
Moment later, Wittman was carried off the field with a lower back injury and did not return.
In the last minute before intermission, Strobeck made two nice saves -- one on a low rocket by Stankovic and seconds later on a drive by Billy Ronson to preserve the tie.
Tacoma had the territorial advantage early, but couldn't score. Former Blast midfielder Freddie Thompson hit the post, and Manning made a nice save on Thompson's rebound effort.
Baltimore scored the last goal of the third quarter, completing Mitchell's hat trick, for a 4-4 tie.
Only 12 seconds after Tacoma took a 4-3 lead, Mitchell, a former Star, whirled and shot from the top of the area, easily beating Strobeck.
The Blast took a 3-2 lead 1:03 into the second quarter on Rusty Troy's goal. Troy, off Stankovic's 15th assist, rolled one through the legs of Tacoma defender Billy Crook and inside the left post.
But Tacoma scored twice to move back into the lead.
At 7:50, Greg Ion, off a Kia pass, shot through the box toward Steve Kinsey at the far post, but the ball bounced off Stankovic and into the net.
At, 9:17, Eddie Radwanski, from left wing after a cross from rookie Shaun Medved, fired high, but volleyed in the rebound.
NOTES: For the second game in a row, Tacoma played without goalkeeper Cris Vaccaro, twice the MSL Defensive Player of the Month, and defender Ralph Black, the team's Player of the Month for November. . . . San Diego had beaten Kansas City, 6-5, and the Blast knew from the end of the first quarter it had a chance to move into a tie for the MSL East lead with a victory.