TACOMA, Wash. -- Baltimore Blast coach Kenny Cooper called last night's game against the Tacoma Stars the most important in franchise history, a declaration his battered club seemed to take to heart in the second half.
Baltimore fell behind, 3-0, by halftime at the Tacoma Dome, but with five players out with injuries, salvaged a 5-4 overtime victory on a goal by Dale Mitchell to complete a hat trick at 1 minute, 43 seconds.
The victory stretched the Blast's lead over the Wichita Stars to three games in their battle for the Major Soccer League Eastern Division's final playoff berth. There are nine games left, and the Wings are coming to Baltimore on Friday night.
Baltimore also ended three streaks that had dogged it: five straight losses overall, nine straight on the road and six in a row in Tacoma.
The Blast could thank Tacoma's Eddie Radwanski, who missed a virtually open net on a breakaway with 19 seconds left in regulation.
"They've been playing well," Cooper said. You can't question that. What we haven't got is a result.
"It had to change. That's what we all believed. We've had setbacks with injuries, and it just continued. The one positive thing is that the kids got a lot of playing time. They'll just benefit down the line. The thing we needed, for their sake, was a win. As we talked about in the team meeting, it's all about results.
"I really believe we're capable of winning 10 in a row. That's a big statement, I know. We've lost a lot of one-goal games, a lot of overtime games, and I think over the course of a season, that will change."
The Blast got on the board at 4:19 of the third quarter when Mitchell, in the midst of three defenders, toe-poked a shot from inside the left post.