Rusty Troy beat the snowstorm to the Baltimore Arena, then went out and beat the Kansas City Comets with a hat trick last night.
Troy arrived at the Arena at 3:30 p.m. for some extra pregame practice, and it paid off. He scored the first two goals of the game to get the Blast started toward a 6-4 victory.
The win came 24 hours after Baltimore was blitzed, 10-4, by Kansas City at Kemper Arena. It enabled the Blast (11-10) to again move within a game of the first-place Comets (12-9) in the Major Soccer League's Eastern Division.
A crowd of 2,097 showed up despite the snowstorm. The number of tickets sold was 5,440.
Blast coach Kenny Cooper said he had a feeling Troy was going to do something special.
"I was here working out with Rusty in the afternoon, and he said he felt good and was going to score some goals," Cooper said. "I had come in early to work with Hank Henry [backup goalkeeper] and see how his ankle sprain was."
Troy, who didn't shy away from predictions in his first two seasons, seems to have become a little more guarded in his third year in the MSL.
He denied that he had predicted before the game he was going to "score some goals."
"I never said that," Troy said. "I'm just glad I could be the person to help pick the team up after Wednesday night's loss. I wasn't out to prove anything."
Troy, whose powerful shot has been rising at times this season, zeroed in on the net last night. He almost scored a fourth goal early in the fourth quarter.
"We looked like a different team than the one that was in Kansas City," said Troy. "We seem to play our best when our backs are to the wall. That seems to be the mentality of this team. It's an attitude we're going to have to change."
Troy's third goal of the game came at 13 minutes, 56 seconds of the third quarter and gave the Blast a 4-3 lead.
It came off a rebound of a missed shot by Billy Ronson, the Blast's leading scorer. The assist by Ronson broke a two-game point-less string for the little midfielder, who hobbled around the floor most of the game with a charley horse.
"I might not have played tonight if we had been in better shape in the standings," Ronson said. "But I had to play."
Baltimore never trailed again after the goal by Troy, but had some scary moments at the end when Kansas City's Doug McLagan scored with 5:03 left to reduce the Comets' deficit to 5-4.
Blast goalkeeper Scott Manning ended any thoughts the Comets had of a comeback, however, when he threw the ball nearly the length of the field to score an empty-net goal that accounted for the final margin with 50 seconds left.
Kansas City had gone to a sixth attacker, Kim Roentved, with 1:24 remaining. It was Manning's first goal since Oct. 29, 1989, and only the fourth of his career.
Manning celebrated after the goal, and it gave him something to needle second-year midfielder David Vaudreuil about in the locker room.
"I'm closing in on you," said Manning (one goal, one assist). "You better watch out."
Vaudreuil (four goals, three assists) just smiled.
Vaudreuil and everyone else knew that Manning's 23 saves meant a lot more than his goal.
"I just did what I had to do," said Manning. "I never judge the way I play in the goal anymore after 12 years."
Domenic Mobilio and Dale Mitchell scored the other goals for the Blast. Former Baltimore midfielder Carl Valentine had one goal for the visitors, and Jan Goossens had three assists.
Goossens said: "I thought we did what we had to do to win, leading, 3-2, at the half, but Baltimore came back, played well and got some goals. It's always nice for a team to get goals from someone [Troy] other than the big shots."
Cooper said he moved veteran defenders Mike Stankovic and Richard Chinapoo to the midfield "to take some pressure off them, and it worked."
NOTES: Blast general manager John Borozzi said team officials were holding their breath all week, hoping snow wouldn't hit last night because the club was struggling at the gate with an average of 6,532 for 10 games. Because of the inclement weather, Borozzi said Blast owner Ed Hale decided to give anyone who purchased a ticket for last night's game -- even if they attended the game -- a free ticket of equal value to the Jan. 19 home game against the Tacoma Stars. Fans who attended last night must keep their ticket stubs to exchange for a free ticket, and those who could not make it to the Arena should present their tickets at the Arena box office between Monday and Jan. 18. No tickets will be exchanged on the day of the game.
Kansas City 1 2 0 1 -- 4
Baltimore 2 0 2 2 -- 6
First quarter--1. Baltimore, Troy 11 (Haywood), 3:16; 2. Baltimore, Troy 12 (Simon), 10:35; 3. Kansas City, Valentine 18 (Goossens), 12:45. Penalties--Barger, Balt (kicking), 0:30.
Second quarter--4. Kansas City, Peschisolido 12 (Goossens), ppg, 9:08; 5. Kansas City, Kain 2 (Peschisolido), 11:36. Penalties--Vaudreuil, Balt (tripping), 8:20.
Third quarter--6. Baltimore, Mobilio 20 (Barger), 4:31; 7. Baltimore, Troy 13 (Ronson), 13:56. Penalties--none.
Fourth quarter--8. Baltimore, Mitchell 17 (Savage), 6:04; 9. Kansas City, McLagan 3 (Goossens), 9:57; 10. Baltimore, Manning 1 (unassisted), 14:10. Penalties--Schiraldi, K.C. ( unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:13; Barger, Balt (unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:13.
Shots on goal--Kansas City, 8-8-10-10--36. Baltimore, 10-3-7-7--27. Saves--Kansas City, Dowler 13. Baltimore, Manning 23. Referees--Esse Baharmast, Paul Tamburino, Bill Lohr. A--2,097.