Blast rallies to 7-5 win 5-goal third quarter puts crush on Crunch

March 14, 1992|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

After all, strange things happen on Friday the 13th.

Last night, the Blast battled back from a 4-1 deficit in the third quarter to take a 7-5 victory in an important game against the Cleveland Crunch.

It was the first time the Blast had scored five goals in a quarter since the last time it played on a Friday the 13th. That was in Cleveland in December, when the Blast rallied from a 7-4 deficit in the fourth quarter to win, 8-7, in overtime.

"No doubt we knew we could score," said Blast forward Rusty Troy. "But I don't think anyone would have told you we'd do this."

The Blast (16-17) moved into sole possession of third place in the Major Soccer League.

The Blast's victory also wrapped up a playoff spot for the league-leading San Diego Sockers, who were in the audience last night and will play here at 2 this afternoon.

"All these games are big games," said Cleveland coach Trevor Dawkins. "This one was one of biggest. It probably would have pushed us into third place and would have made it tough for them to come back against San Diego.

"But we made three mistakes, they scored four goals and Vaccaro played unbelievable. He made two or three saves he had no right to make -- they were as good as you'll ever see."

Goalkeeper Cris Vaccaro kept the Blast as close as it was in the first half, and then played as if he owned the goal.

As his teammates rallied for four goals in a 4:58 span, Vaccaro got stronger.

"It was a world-class performance," said Blast coach Kenny Cooper. "We could have been down 7-1 at halftime. And the way he played in the fourth quarter was inspiring."

Vaccaro made 23 saves, 11 in the fourth quarter, when Cleveland took 19 shots.

"You could feel our momentum building," Vaccaro said. "It was important to get the first goal in the second half -- and then we got four of them"

Emil Dragicevic scored the game-winner on a ball that got away from Cleveland keeper Otto Orf and took a slow roll along the goal line before finally inching into the net.

Dragicevic also took advantage of another Cleveland mistake with second effort. As Orf was running through the box, about to throw the ball downfield, he somehow dropped it. Dragicevic was there to kick it into the net.

It took the Blast nearly 30 minutes to fall behind the Crunch, 4-1, and just 6:25 to take a 5-4 lead.

In a scoring display reminiscent of last month's All-Star Game, the Blast emerged from the locker room and overran Cleveland.

First, Rod Castro punched the ball in from the right post. Then Mobilio took a long lead pass from Rusty Troy, spun and blasted a 20-footer past Orf.

Dragicevic then got good and lucky. He hit a bullet from near the near post that got through Orf's hands. The ball then rolled at a turtle's pace for several feet along the goal line, before finally dipping into the goal, just ahead of the outstretched hands of Crunch defender George Fernandez.

The Blast was back in it at 4-4. When Troy scored on a power play with 8:35 to go in the quarter, the Blast led, 5-4.

No one could have expected the Blast's power display after a first half in which the Crunch dominated.

First Cleveland rookie Tom Tanner, questionable before the game with a strained groin, managed to redirect a shot by Zoran Karic and score the first Crunch goal with 6:03 gone in the first quarter.

Blast forward Domenic Mobilio tied the game at 1-1 on a power play, when he hit a beautiful right-footed shot right in front of the Cleveland goal. But that was all the scoring the Blast could manage against the Crunch, which was not afraid to play a bump-and-jam defense.

In the second quarter, Hector Marinaro ran into the box, just as Rudy Pikuzinski headed the ball into the boards. The ball and Marinaro met in perfect harmony the middle of the box and Marinaro drove it home, as the Blast defense lagged behind.

Cleveland's final goal of the half came on a controversial play with 10:47 gone. Pikuzinski took a shot that hit the glass above the goal and bounced straight up. Vaccaro jumped into the air to grab the ball. While Vaccaro was in the air, Zoran Karic charged into defender Mark Mettrick, who was in front of the goal, and both Mettrick and Karic carried Vaccaro and the ball into the net for the Cleveland score.

Cleveland 1 3 0 1 -- 5

Baltimore 1 0 5 1 -- 7

First quarter--1 Clev. Tanner 8 (Karic), 6:03. 2 Bal. Mobilio 33 (Castro), 8:48. Penalties--Willin, Clev. (Tripping) 8:08.

Second quarter--3 Clev. Marinaro 39 (Pikuzinski) 1:10. 4 Pikuzinski 12 (Karic ), pp, 7:05. 5 Karic 34 (Hoggan), 10:47. Penalties--Mobilio, Bal. (Pushing) 6:03.

Third quarter--6 Bal. Castro 18 (Mettrick) 1:27; 7 Bal. Mobilio 34 (Troy) 2:47; 8 Bal. Dragicevic 8 (Castro) 3:06; 9 Bal. Troy 17 (Kazemaini) 6:25; 10 Bal. Dragicevic 9 (Unassisted) 11:47. Penalties--Moreira, Clev., (Tripping) 5:06.

Fourth quarter--11 Clev. Diflorio 13 (Marinaro) 13:25. 12 Bal. Sloan 8 (Troy) 14:46. Penalties--Ronson, Bal., (Unsportsmanlike Conduct) 7:07; Willin, Clev., (Unsportsmanlike Conduct) 7:07. Bal. Bench (Harbor) 7:52. Clev. Bench (Hoggan) 7:52. Kelderman, Bal., (Dangerous Play) 13:27.

Shots on goal--Cleveland 7-8-9-19--43; Baltimore -- 6-6-14-5--31. Saves--Cleveland, Orf 16; Baltimore, Vaccaro 23. Referees--Gino Dippilito, Kelly Mock, and Dennis Woodward. A--8,811.

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