The scene in the locker rooms told the story of another Blast loss to the San Diego Sockers yesterday.
Sockers coach Ron Newman talked about how his "good" players seldom make the same mistake twice, leading San Diego scorer Paul Wright to explain how he broke loose for two goals and one assist in the second half. Tim Wittman told how he silenced some hometown hecklers with two goals in a 10-7 victory at the Baltimore Arena.
Upstairs in the Blast locker room, coach Kenny Cooper had his right hand heavily wrapped in ice after smashing it into the blackboard in anger moments after the defeat.
Domenic Mobilio and Billy Ronson, who scored two goals each, were seething.
Mobilio said: "We made mental mistakes too many times and we let them get behind us for goals."
Ronson, talking about how the Blast lost a 5-2 halftime lead, said: "We gave them the game. We started running with the ball and stopped playing one-two touch that we were supposed to play."
Whatever the reasons, the Sockers scored six goals in the fourth quarter to wipe out a 6-4 Blast advantage and walked off the floor with a 5-1 edge in the season series.
The loss prevented the Blast (16-18) from reaching the .500 mark and kept them percentage points ahead of the fourth-place Wichita Wings (15-17) in the Major Soccer League.
With six games remaining, the Blast remains in a struggle for the fourth and final playoff spot.
"To win this game would have been magnificent," said Cooper. "We had a great opportunity to send a message to San Diego today, but I think our players got tired in the second half and that caused them to make mental mistakes and try to do too much on their own."
Cooper watched goalkeeper Cris Vaccaro come out of the net twice in the fourth quarter in an attempt to stop the attacking Sockers and the result was two goals.
Cooper also watched his team botch two free kicks near the penalty box in the final 8:06 after San Diego had tied the score at 6 on Wright's second goal.
Both times the Blast chose not to have Jean Harbor shoot the free kick, even though he had sent a sizzling free kick past San Diego goalkeeper Victor Nogueira for a 4-2 lead in the second quarter.
Harbor not only beat Nogueira on the free kick but a little more than three minutes later he also whistled a 55-foot shot past Nogueira for a 5-2 advantage.
Harbor's second goal was one of the more spectacular scores of the season for the Blast, as he outraced a couple of Sockers defenders at midfield and hit the ball on the run.
"That happened too fast for me to do anything," said Nogueira, who is probably the top goalkeeper in the league. "All Harbor has to do is turn and kick the ball and he would be more successful."
But for some unknown reason, Harbor was not involved that much in the Blast offense in the second half.
Cooper said of the late free-kick decisions: "Those were up to the players. They have to react to the situation."
According to Newman, the Blast went away from Harbor on the free kicks because the Sockers had a three-man wall built up for him.
"We had only one man in the wall on his free kick in the first half," said Newman. "We straightened that out at halftime. We seldom make the same mistake twice. Our guys got going after getting kicked in the butt in the first half."
Wittman, sporting a shaved head for the first time since he signed with San Diego after not being re-signed by the Blast last summer, re-directed a shot by Thompson Usiyan into the net for his first goal of the day in the second quarter, and he scored from 80 feet with 4:45 left to give San Diego an 8-6 lead.
"There were some fans in back of the goal getting on me a lot and I couldn't figure out why," said Wittman, who played here for nine seasons. "I asked them what I ever did to them and they had no answer. It hurt me at first, but then I decided it was all part of the game. So I decided to play games with them. When I scored the first time, I clenched my fist at them and the second time I waved at them."
San Diego 1 1 2 6 -- 10
Baltimore 3 2 1 1 -- 7
First quarter--1, Baltimore, Mobilio 35 (Neely), 3:57. 2, Baltimore, Troy 18 (Mobilio), 6:30. 3, Baltimore, Ronson 13 (Sloan), 12:01. 4, San Diego, Dougherty 31 (Golovnia), 12:17. Penalties--Crow, SD (holding), :11; Dougherty, SD (delay of game), 4:41; Troy, Bal (unsportsmanlike conduct), 12:59; Wright, SD (tripping), 12:59.
Second quarter--5, San Diego, Wittman 19 (Usiyan), 5:26. 6, Baltimore, Harbor 8, 8:12. 7, Baltimore, Harbor 9 (Kelderman), 12:42. Penalties--Castro, Bal (dangerous play), 3:31.
Third quarter--8, San Diego, Wright 43 (Ladouceur), 11:25. 9, San Diego, Woodberry 18 (Wright), 12:42. 10, Baltimore, Mobilio 36 (Ronson), 14:28. Penalties--Neely, Bal (tripping), 11:41.
Fourth quarter--11, San Diego, Usiyan 22 (Ladouceur), 1:27. 12, San Diego, Wright 44 (Woodberry), 2:24. 13, San Diego, Crow, 10:00. 14, San Diego, Wittman 20, 10:15. 15. Baltimore, Ronson 14 (Sloan), 13:01. 16, San Diego, Woodberry 19, 13:57. 17, San Diego, Banks 7, 14:39. Penalties--None.
Shots on Goal--San Diego 6-8-10-1236. Baltimore 16-7-3-1036. Goalies--Nogueira, San Diego, 36 shots, 14 saves); Vaccaro, Baltimore, 33 shots, 11 saves; Fraser, Baltimore, 3 shots, 0 saves. A--10,060.