Billy Ronson was a smash with everyone Saturday night at the Baltimore Arena.
The cheerleaders liked him because he made their job easier by imploring the fans to make some noise in the fourth quarter. The crowd loved him when he won the game in overtime with a 35-foot shot. The Baltimore Blast players and coaches admired his spunk as the sixth attacker in a four-goal rally in the fourth quarter, and his wife, Julie, was all smiles as Ronson presented her with two dozen red carnations after a 7-6 victory over the St. Louis Storm.
It was a memorable night for Ronson and the Blast before 8,218 who saw one of the more exciting games in the 11-year history of the Major Soccer League franchise.
"If the fans don't come out now and watch us play, they never will," said Baltimore midfielder Tim Wittman, who had three assists in his first game after missing six games with a right hip pointer.
Baltimore (13-11) wiped out a 5-2 St. Louis lead with four goals in the fourth quarter. The Storm tied the game with one second left on a head shot by Thompson Usiyan, but the Blast bounced back with Ronson's goal 1 minute, 8 seconds into overtime.
The fourth-quarter Baltimore rally included two long-range goals from Mike Stankovic.
Stankovic bombarded St. Louis goalkeeper Zoltan Toth from 45 feet on the right side for the goal that tied the game at 5 with 3:46 left, and then he blasted Toth from nearly 50 feet out on the left to send the Blast ahead, 6-5, with 2:27 remaining.
Mike Reynolds' short-handed goal and Dale Mitchell's second goal of the night had brought the Blast within 5-4 with 5:09 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The game-winning goal was the third this season for Ronson, establishing a club record two games before the midpoint of a 52-game season.
Ronson said: "When you're down, 5-2, at home, it's embarrassing. I had to do something [raising fists high over his head to lead cheers] about it. We have to get a winning streak gone and get into first place, where we're accustomed to being."
NOTES: MSL commissioner Earl Foreman attended Saturday night's game and inspected the Baltimore Arena carpet. Foreman said, "There are some areas I'm concerned about, but I'll wait and see what happens at this week's meeting between the Blast and Centre Management." . . . Backup Blast G Hank Henry (sprained right ankle) said yesterday that the results of a bone scan on his lower right leg were negative, and he expects to return to action Friday night at Wichita. Henry has missed 7 games while healing.