Blast sent on the road with 11-6 loss to KiXX

Hopes to open playoffs at home go up in smoke


April 01, 2001|By Kevin Cooney | Kevin Cooney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

PHILADELPHIA -- They could have been sitting at home with their feet propped up, waiting for a playoff opponent to come to them.

Instead, the Blast will spend today trying to figure out where its next game will be.

In a game rich with playoff implications, Cesidio Colasante's go-ahead goal with 1:19 to play boosted Philadelphia to an 11-6 win over the Blast last night in an NPSL defensive struggle at the First Union Spectrum.

With the loss, the Blast finished the regular season with a 22-18 record, a half-game back of Philadelphia for second place in the American Conference.

Now, the Blast has to wait for the results of today's KiXX game in Buffalo before knowing its playoff destination. The NPSL postseason begins next weekend.

"To fight all the way back and to lose a game like this, it hurts," said Blast coach/GM Kevin Healey. "But you have to give Philadelphia credit, because they made the most of their chances."

The Blast owns the best road record in the NPSL at 10-10. But having two home games in a best-of-three series would have been a huge advantage.

Both sides played cautiously and sloppily during the first quarter. Philadelphia had the better scoring chances in the period, but Blast goalie Scott Hileman made two nice saves to keep the game scoreless.

The second period saw the Blast become the offensive aggressor, yet still trail on the scoreboard.

The Blast broke the scoring drought early in the second quarter when Mark Thomas rifled a cross-field pass that Guilano Celenza sent past Philadelphia goaltender Pete Pappas for a 2-0 lead.

That's when Dom D'Ambra started to become the KiXX's one-man offense. Less than two minutes after Celenza's goal, D'Ambra headed Pat Morris' pass off the end boards and past Hileman to tie it.

Then, with 1:30 left in the period, D'Ambra got to a ball a split-second before Hileman reached it, hook-sliding it into the back of the net for a 4-2 Philadelphia lead.

Midway through the third, D'Ambra set rookie Les Lunsford up for his first career goal that made it 6-2 Philadelphia.

But just when it appeared the Blast was done for the evening, it got a break when Pappas' clearing attempt was deflected into the Philadelphia net by a sliding Denison Cabral to cut the Blast deficit to 6-4.

The Blast then went on the attack, only to be rebuffed by some brilliant goaltending by Pappas. He stopped two point-blank scoring attempts, including a blast from Tarik Walker from five feet in front early in the fourth.

However, the Blast finally tied it with 8:30 to play when Lance Johnson took Walker's shot off the boards and headed it past Pappas into the far corner of the net.

"At that point, we felt we had all the momentum," Johnson said. "To come back against a goalie like Pete and tie them, we felt like we were going to pull this one out."

"We've won plenty of games like that, including here in this building," Healey said. "I expected we were going to do it again."

Blast 0 2 2 2 -- 6

Philadelphia 0 4 2 5 -- 11

Second quarter 1. Blast, Celenza (Thomas), 3:54; 2. Philadelphia,- D'Ambra (Morris), 5:48; 3. Philadelphia, D'Ambra (Namazi), 13:30. Penalties: Philadelphia,- Scigliano, (holding), 10:50; Philadelphia,- Scigliano (breakaway hold), 10;50

Third quarter 4. Philadelphia,- Lunsford (D'Ambra), 5:44; 5. Blast,- Cabral (unassisted), 11:29; Penalties: None

Fourth quarter 6. Blast,: Johnson (Walker) 8:30; 7. Philadelphia,: Colasante (Hunjak), 13:41; 8. Namazi 3-pointer (unassisted), 14:59; Penalties: None; Shots on goal: Blast, 4-14-5-10--33; Philadelphia, 6-7-5-8-26. Saves: Philadelphia, Pappas (27); Blast, (Hileman 15, Wright 1). Referees: Gary Huber, Graham Florence, Mike DiCicco. Att: 6,703; Time: 2:13.

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