Last night, the Blast won, 8-5. The win, combined with the Wings' loss creates a three-way tie for third place in the Major Soccer League.
Baltimore, Wichita and the Cleveland Crunch are 14-15 heading into the last 11 games of the season.
"We had to win," said Blast defender Mark Mettrick. "When it got to 4-4, well, you don't panic, but we were in a dire situation."
With the score tied, the Blast found a go-to guy -- Mettrick.
Hustling up the right side of the field, Mettrick picked up a loose ball and kicked it in from 20 feet.
The goal gave the Blast a 5-4 lead with 2:23 gone in the fourth quarter. Two-and-a-half minutes later, he made it 6-4, when he
shook free of defender Steve Pittman, whirled and fired.
"The first goal," Mettrick said, "I just whacked it. The second one, I just whacked it again."
It was only then that either team looked susceptible to losing.
"When we got to the fourth quarter, we simply forgot to play defense," said Wings coach Roy Turner. "When you do that against a very disciplined team like the Blast, you're going to pay the price for it, and we did."
"I apologize to Scott [Manning, goalkeeper] for the way the defense played in front of him here."
Manning, who was with the Blast for 10 years, was making his first appearance here as a member of the Wings. Last night, he made 14 saves, and Cooper said that if Manning hadn't been there "we would have had 12 goals."
Manning's record slipped to 1-4. Turner, however, said he is not unhappy with his play, adding, "We renewed his contract for another 15 days today [yesterday]."
After Mettrick's two goals, defender Doug Neely and forward Domenic Mobilio added two more, to guarantee the victory.
"This is the kind of passion we have to play with," said Blast coach Kenny Cooper. "It's basically playoff time now. If you're going to sit back and wait to play in the playoffs, you're not going to get there."
Before the game, MSL commissioner Earl Foreman and deputy commissioner John Borozzi met with referees Julio Salas, Joe Manfre and Bill Lohr to discuss their roles in last night's game.
"In light of the article in [yesterday's] paper, we wanted to be sure we were all on the same page," said Borozzi, in reference to a story in which Blast coach Kenny Cooper strongly criticized the league's officials. "We simply reaffirmed their [the officials] responsibilities. You know the saying, an ounce of prevention . . . "
Wichita 1 1 1 2 -- 5
Baltimore 0 3 1 4 -- 8
First quarter--1, Wich. Pittman 20 (Ervine), 9:06. Penalties--Ronson, Bal., (Misconduct) 6:34.
Second quarter--2, Bal. Harbor 5 (Neely) 1:57; 3, Bal. Castro 15 (Neely) 8:47; 4, Bal. Mobilio 29 (Fraser), PP, 11:33; 5, Wich. Ervine 37 (Borja), PP, 12:46. Penalties--Borja, Wich., (Tripping) 10:05; Koziol, Bal., (Kicking) 12:26.
Third quarter--6, Bal. Troy 15 (Ronson) :42; 7, Wich. Ervine 38 (Byrne) , PP, 6:40. Penalties--Neely, Bal., (Boarding) 4:55.
Fourth quarter--8, Wich. Borja 23 (unassisted) 1:21; 9, Bal. Mettrick 15 ( Castro) 2:23; 10, Bal. Mettrick 16 (Vaccaro) 5:03; 11, Bal. Neely 5 (Castro) 8:11; 12, Bal. Mobilio 30 (Kazemaini) 9:26; 13, Wich. Borja 24 (Pena), sixth attacker, 11:40. Penalties--None.
Shots on goal--Wichita 7-4-8-12--31; Baltimore 6-15-8-9--38. Saves--Wichita, Manning 14, Byrne 1; Baltimore, Vaccaro 15. Referees--Julio Salas, Joe Manfre and Bill Lohr. A--6,194.