Storm's veterans give a lesson to Blast, 10-6 Ilijevski, Segota lead St. Louis to win

December 28, 1991|By Mark McColl | Mark McColl,Special to The Sun

ST. LOUIS -- Old is in these days with the St. Louis Storm, where Slobo Ilijevski and Branko Segota refuse to act their age.

Ilijevski and Segota, two of the Major Soccer League's elder statesmen, played prominent roles as the Storm beat the Baltimore Blast, 10-6, last night.

Segota, 30, who broke into the league in 1978-79, recorded three assists to become the second MSL player to reach the 800-point mark. He has 801 in 11 seasons.

Ilijevski, 42, by far the oldest player in the league, proved he still has some quality time left. The Storm goalkeeper kept the Blast at bay, facing 39 shots and making 23 saves. The action was Ilijevski's first since Nov. 30.

The Storm put the Blast in an early hole, taking a 6-1 lead by halftime. The Blast cut it to 8-5 after three quarters, but got no closer.

"When you fall behind 6-1, it's like trying to climb a mountain," Blast coach Kenny Cooper said. "We got halfway up, then we slipped back down again."

Former Blast player Waad Hirmez, Preki and George Pastor all had two goals to lead the way for St. Louis (6-9). John Klein, Daryl Doran, Mark Santel and Fernando Clavijo also scored for the Storm.

Baltimore got two goals apiece from Billy Ronson and Rusty Troy and one each from Domenic Mobilio and Kevin Sloan. The Blast slipped below .500 at 8-9.

The Blast has been a road warrior of late, winning five of the past six away from Baltimore heading into the game. But after playing in Tacoma on Thursday night, the Blast appeared to be suffering from jet lag. The Storm took advantage and scored six first-half goals to take control.

"It's been a very difficult schedule for us," Cooper said. "Obviously, when you travel close to 6,000 miles in a few days, it's going to be tough. It took us until the second half to get our legs, and that was too late."

St. Louis took a 2-0 lead on first-quarter goals by Klein and Hirmez. The Blast cut the lead in half on Troy's goal at the 10:48 mark.

However, that was one of the last things the Blast did right in the first half, as St. Louis scored four consecutive second-quarter goals.

Hirmez, whom the Storm signed from Baltimore last month, started the barrage. Preki spotted Hirmez streaking down the left side in front of the Blast bench and hit him in stride with a cross-court pass. Hirmez one-timed it by Blast goalkeeper Cris Vaccaro at the 7:22 mark to make it 3-1, Storm.

"They have the greatest passer in the league in Preki," Baltimore's Billy Ronson said. "When you give them wide-open passing lanes, they're going to kill you, and that's what they did."

Doran scored from right in front at the 10:21 mark and Santel scored from near the red line 1:27 later to make it 5-1. Preki added one with Mark Mettrick off for tripping and 1:11 left in the quarter to give the Storm a 6-1 halftime lead. That was Preki's 600th career MSL point.

"We had a talk with ourselves at halftime and we said, 'Let's not get embarrassed,' " Ronson said. "We've been a good road team; I think we're .500 on the road. But we haven't been able to put it together."

Baltimore cut into the lead in the third period. Ronson scored the first of his two goals 29 seconds into the second half to make it 6-2. Mobilio added a power-play goal at 3:11, bringing the Blast within 6-3.

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