Baltimore finally beat San Diego in a national championship indoor soccer game. No, it wasn't the Blast knocking out the Sockers in the Major Soccer League finals.
It was the Baltimore Hummers defeating the San Diego Stars, 7-2, last weekend in the National Indoor Soccer unlimited championship game in Atlanta.
Chris Webbert, Doug Miller and Greg Barger each scored two goals in the title game. Paul Wojcik had one goal.
The Hummers, coached by Kevin Healy, won the 32-team tournament with a 7-0 record. The 32 teams came from all over the United States and included two from Mexico and one from Canada.
Hummers midfielder Sam Mangione was chosen Most Valuable Player in the tournament, and Baltimore forward Roberto Ascenzi and goalkeeper Brian Hartlove were selected to the all-tournament team.
Ascenzi had 10 goals in seven games, and Hartlove was superb in the Hummers' semifinal shootout victory over Kansas City Lowenbrau.
Hartlove stopped eight of 10 K.C. shots in the shootout after the game ended in a 2-2 tie. Baltimore won the shootout, 3-2, behind successful shots by Ascenzi, Miller and Mike Hubbe.
Outstanding Hummers defenders were John Karpovich, Steve Nichols, Stan Lembryk, Steve Ware and Hubbe.
Healy said: "This national championship shows you how good indoor soccer is in the Baltimore area. John Kerr [former Washington Stars coach and director of the MSL Players Association] had a team there and the San Diego Sockers had a kind of reserve team in the tourney."
Blast coach Kenny Cooper created quite a stir Feb. 27 when he said he would offer owner Ed Hale his resignation if Baltimore lost to the San Diego Sockers in the Major Soccer League championship series again this year.
Even though Cooper has been blamed by some people for the team's surprising fall below .500 this season, he has been one of the premier coaches in the MSL for 12 seasons (11 in Baltimore and one for the Houston Summit).
He is the only coach in Blast history.
Cooper has compiled a 350-255 record here and has helped keep the team in Baltimore twice when previous owners Bernie Rodin and Nathan Scherr decided to sell the Blast.
No coach in league history has won more games, and only two (San Diego Sockers' Ron Newman and St. Louis Storm's Don Popovic) have a better winning percentage.
Newman (.650) is first, Popovic (.648) second and Cooper (.578) third.
To Cooper's credit, he has prevented the Blast from ever plummeting to the bottom of the league.
But he and Baltimore have lost to Newman and San Diego two straight years and four times overall in the championship series.
Cooper, who has guided the Blast to one MSL championship, said last week: "I'm not quitting or throwing in the towel. If we lose [to San Diego], I'll go to the owner [Hale] and say, 'What do you want to do?' Someone has to stand up and be counted. Someone has to step forward and stick their jaw out. I owe it to myself, the fans and owners to stand up and be counted."
Hale keeps saying he has no plans to fire Cooper and said of the Cooper resignation talk, "That's all Kenny talking, not me."
Maryland Bays president and general manager John Liparini said last week that Doug Orr, head coach at the University of Hartford (Conn.), is one of seven candidates for the vacant Bays head coaching position.
Liparini said the others are former Blast players Keith Van Eron, Dave MacWilliams and Niki Nikolic, former University of Maryland Baltimore County coach John Ellinger, former Loyola College assistant Dennis Krupa and Centennial High School coach Bill Stara.
"It's hard to chose a coach," said Liparini. "After each interview, I said to myself, 'This is the man' and then I wake up in the morning and say I can't make any quick decisions."