Waad Hirmez sat in front of his locker, a satisfied look enveloping his sweating face.
"My life is just beginning," he said last night, after the Blast's 4-3 victory over the Tacoma Stars. "Tonight I scored an important goal at the right time. Tomorrow I can celebrate my 30th birthday knowing I am on my way to proving to the fans that I came here with the intention of winning something."
Last night, the Blast used goals by defenders David Eise and Iain Fraser, by forward Domenic Mobilio and by their exuberant midfielder to break a two-game losing streak and capture its first victory of the season.
The victory was sweet for several other reasons. A year ago, the Blast lost 18 one-goal games. Last night, it finally won one. And last night, the 6,093 fans in the Baltimore Arena got their first real dose of Hirmez.
With the score tied at 3 and 2:34 left, midfielder Joe Koziol saw Hirmez posting up and sent a perfect pass to his left foot. Hirmez, his backto defender Fred Thompson, spun and drilled the ball past Tacoma goalkeeper Mike Dowler.
Then Hirmez turned on the emotion. He ran to the plexiglass and leaped -- "It was a little high for me, I wish I was a foot taller," he said later.
But he managed. He pounded the glass. He punched his fist into the air. The fans came to their feet and roared. He ran to the middle of the field. He waved at all of them, to his right, his left, at both ends. They roared. He blew kisses at them. He flexed both arms like Hercules and then booted the ball into the stands, a souvenir for someone.
A ringmaster extraordinaire.
"It all came from inside me," said Hirmez, who also assisted on Mobilio's goal that put the Blast ahead 3-2 in the second quarter. "I wanted the fans to make noise. I want them to know my heart and soul are here. I want them to know they make a difference, both in how we play and how the other team plays."
The Blast defense showed it can defend and produce offensively, with Fraser shutting out Dale Mitchell and Carl Valentine getting only one assist.
"I think Dale and Carl were trying a little too hard, being back here," said Tacoma coach Keith Weller. "But overall, we just weren't converting our chances."
Not that there weren't moments of worry for the Blast. A 2-0 lead in the first quarter disappeared.
Blast defender Doug Neely failed to play the ball back to goalkeeper Cris Vaccaro late in the period, lost it in the corner and Gary Heale ended up scoring. Ed Radwanski made it 2-2, when Vaccaro failed to clear a ball cleanly.
Mobilio put the Blast back on top with 11:02 to play in the second quarter, and that was the end of the scoring until with 10:51 to go in the fourth, Heale scored again off a free kick.
"When that happened, I think we just said to ourselves, 'No, not again,' " said Fraser.
"We actually defended that free kick well," said Vaccaro, who played for Tacoma last season. "It was something of a fluke. The ball went off Ralphy's [Ralph Black's] right foot and hit Gary's vTC big nose and went in.
"But we kept our composure and Waad scored a great goal when we needed it. It should give us confidence down the road when we come up against other one-goal games."
NOTES: Vaccaro had 11 saves on 25 shots, and Dowler stopped 11 of 22 shots . . . Tacoma, which came into last night's game off a victory in Cleveland, is 1-1 . . . Neely will have an MRI test today to diagnose a knee injury that has bothered him since Friday's game in Wichita.