DALLAS -- Billy Ronson has no one to blame but himself. Wednesday he saw fit to tell Bruce Savage that, in 19 years of playing soccer, he had never scored an own-goal.
So there was Ronson, nearly 14 minutes into last night's contest with the Dallas Sidekicks at Reunion Arena, in front of his own net, confronted with a loose ball. He had already staked the Blast to a 1-0 lead with his 14th goal at 10:11 of the opening period.
Ronson tried playing this particular ball with his left foot. He kicked it off the near post and into the net. Sidekicks midfielder Pedro DeBrito was credited with the goal and the game was tied 1-1.
"It is one of those things," Ronson said. "The ball couldn't have hit me any better, right on top of the toe, and on my left foot even."
Fortunately for the Blast, Ronson had plenty to give his own team. The diminutive midfielder officially scored three goals and an assist leading Baltimore to a 6-5 victory before 8,123. The Blast (10-8) now trails Kansas City by a half-game in the Major Soccer League's Eastern Division.
"When you win you can laugh about it," Ronson said. "With indoor soccer you get those bounces."
Ronson was quick to repent. He headed in a bouncing ball for a 2-1 lead midway through the second quarter.
"You just erase [an own-goal]," Blast coach Kenny Cooper said. "That's what we talked about, and we did a good job to keep it focused."
Ronson completely exorcised his gaffe when he scored the game-winner with 6:20 left, capping his third hat trick of the year. It came on the power play. Wes McLeod was the Dallas player sent off -- for holding Ronson.
Goalkeeper Scott Manning may not have stopped Ronson, but he certainly foiled the Dallas players. For the game Manning (5-4) made 14 saves. None were bigger than the two he made with 8:20 left and the Blast clinging to a 5-4 lead.
Manning came sliding out of the goal to stop a point-blank shot from Kevin Smith. The rebound rolled to Manning's right where Doc Lawson waited. Miraculously Manning got to the ball just as Lawson did and stopped a sure goal.
"Manning has had some great games in this building," Cooper said. "It was one of the greatest saves I've ever seen, and with the game on the line."
Dallas never led this one. Beto tied it 2-2 on a free kick and Tatu turned a Dallas power play into a 3-3 tie 52 seconds before the half.
"I talked pretty strong at halftime," Cooper said. "Our defense has got to stop penalties and it has to stop free kicks.
"That's the way the game is going. Special teams and set plays are so important because of the big goals."
Richard Chinapoo opened the second-half scoring against his former mates. Then Ronson sent a free kick from the right boards to Dale Mitchell 15 feet in front of the net. Mitchell made good for his second goal of the game and a two-goal lead.
"It was a set play," Ronson said. "Other times I haven't given the ball to Dale hard enough. Tonight I did. It was a great play by Dale, I give him full credit."
The Sidekicks came with the sixth-attacker for the final 5:30. Not until 13 seconds remained, when Tatu produced his second goal, were they able to convert.
"Give the Sidekicks credit, they never quit," Cooper said. "Tatu showed at the end that he has the heart of a lion."
The Blast returns home to face San Diego Saturday before facing Kansas City in an away-and-home showdown next Wednesday and Thursday.
"One of our goals was to be in first place by the end of the year," Cooper said. "Now we have that opportunity."