Early impact gives Blast a 15-11 win

9-0 opening, big night by Hileman top Montreal

January 29, 2000|By Philippe Germain | Philippe Germain,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

MONTREAL -- Not even Montreal's emergency services could prevent the Blast from winning last night's National Professional Soccer League game between the American Conference's top two teams.

Playing before 2,253 -- largely the city's police officers, firefighters and ambulance personnel -- the Blast scored the game's first nine points and then hung on to beat the Impact, 15-11.

"We had a terrific start, and although Montreal has a good team, it becomes hard to catch up when you're behind that early," said Blast forward Erik Rasmussen, whose unassisted goal 35 seconds into the game opened the scoring.

Defender Ronnie Simmons' three-pointer and a pair of two-point tallies by Jason Dieter completed the early Blast burst.

But the night's star proved to be Blast goalkeeper Scott Hileman, who made 35 saves and even set up the goal that sealed the win. His first-quarter shutout made it four straight periods of blanks.

"You always face lots of shots on the road, but nobody can take all the credit. You've got to get a few lucky bounces," he said.

Montreal ended Hileman's streak with three points in the second quarter and then, nibbling away, made it a four-point game midway through the final period.

But with four minutes left, Hileman took advantage of low Impact defense to spring Barry Stitz loose on a breakaway for the clincher on his eighth goal of the season.

"We took advantage of several defensive letdowns on their part, and we answered back every time they came at us," said Blast coach Kevin Healey.

Blast forwards Tarik Walker and Denison Cabral put in two-pointers in the third quarter.

The Blast lost midfielder Danny Kelly to a hamstring injury, and he will miss tonight's game against Cleveland in Baltimore.

With the win, the Blast improved its East Division-leading record to 16-9. Montreal, tops in the Central, is 14-10.

Blast 9 0 4 2 -- 15

Montreal 0 3 4 4 -- 11

First quarter--1. Blast, Rasmussen 2, : 35; 2. Blast, Simmons 3, 3: 42; 3. Blast, Dieter 2 (Walker), 8: 56; 4. Blast, Dieter 2 (Thomas), 13: 23.

Second quarter--5. Montreal, Biello 2 (Sebrango), 1: 17; 6. Montreal, Needham 1, 5: 04.

Third quarter--7. Blast, Walker 2 (Johnson), : 36; 8. Montreal, DeSantis 2 (Roy), 1: 35; 9. Blast, Cabral 2 (Rasmussen), 1: 49; 10. Montreal, Stathopoulos 2 (Roy), 6: 35.

Fourth quarter--11. Montreal, Pizzolitto 2 (Biello), 6: 12; 12. Blast, Stitz 2 (Hileman), 9: 25; 13. Montreal, Biello 2 (Needham), 13: 50.

Shots on goal--Blast 12-0-7-524; Montreal 10-21-15-1460. Power-play opportunities--Blast 0-0, Montreal 0-1. Goalies--Blast, Hileman 41 shots, 35 saves. Montreal, Ceccarelli 16 shots, nine saves. A--2,253.

Blast tonight

Opponent: Cleveland Crunch

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: 7: 30

Radio: WCBM (680 AM)

Outlook: Cleveland holds a 2-1 advantage in the season series. Two of the games were marred by fights. The Blast won the previous meeting, 18-14. Forward Hector Marinaro leads the Crunch in points. The Blast has a 10-3 home record this season, including six in a row.

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