Blast wins, 9-6

Wright, Celenza star against K.C.

Goalie Hileman earns 100th career victory


October 27, 2001|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

With two more goals by Giuliano Celenza, a second straight three-assist effort from Paul Wright, and 16 saves from goalkeeper Scott Hileman, the Blast got past the visiting Kansas City Comets, 9-6, last night.

More than anything else, the Blast gave a strong collective effort before 5,682 at Baltimore Arena in raising its record to 2-0 in the new Major Indoor Soccer League season and getting Hileman his 100th career win.

"We just played very well tonight. Everybody played hard on both sides of the ball," said Celenza, the former Archbishop Curley and UMBC star who has three goals in two games but left midway through the final period with an apparent hip flexor injury. "Everybody stayed very positive throughout, and that's a great sign."

Leading 4-2 at halftime, the Blast took control in latter stages of the third quarter and didn't let go. With the score tied at 4, captain Lance Johnson took a feed in front from Tarik Walker and found the upper-right corner for a 6-4 lead with 6:18 remaining in the period.

Then on the game's only power-play, Wright found Celenza for a door-step goal with 48 seconds left in the period, making the margin 8-4.

Wright, now with a MISL-high six assists, liked spreading the wealth.

"We've got so many people that can put the ball in the net, I'm just trying to keep everyone happy," said the veteran midfielder. "My time to score goals will come. But for now, as long as we're winning and I'm getting balls to guys that are finishing, that's all that matters. Everyone is involved and that's my job right now."

The Comets (1-1) got a two-pointer from Goran Hunjak to close the Blast lead to 8-6 with 12:23 left. But the home team tightened up defensively and, 4:38 from the end, saw Denison Cabral pad the lead with a shootout goal.

Cabral's one-pointer was indicative of the Blast's poised fourth-quarter play. He hesitated on the free kick, drawing Kansas City goalkeeper Chris D'Amico out, and then casually scooped the ball over D'Amico's head, chased it down after it came off the boards and scored.

Kansas City opened the game's scoring. Some poor early marking caught up with the Blast late in the first quarter when Comets midfielder Jamie Harding scored from in front off a pass from Delevski for a 2-0 lead with 1:58 left.

The home team found a spark midway through the second quarter from a diving Celenza, who headed in his own rebound after collecting a feed from Wright on the left side to draw even at 2.

Veteran defender Doug Neely gave the Blast its first lead at 4-2 with 24 seconds left until the break, one-timing a ball in front sent in off the boards by Walker.

The game marked the professional debut of Blast rookie defender Billy Nelson, a Bel Air High grad who enjoyed a standout four-year career at UMBC before becoming the Blast's first-round pick in last year's amateur draft.

NOTES: The Blast will take to the road tonight for the first time this season, traveling to Cleveland for a 7:35 start in the Crunch's home opener at Gund Arena. Last season, the teams split eight games; the Blast were 2-2 in Cleveland.

Kansas City 2 0 2 2 - 6

Blast 0 4 4 1 - 9

First quarter: 1. Kansas City, Harding, 2 pt., (Delevski), 13:02. Second quarter: 2. Blast, Celenza, 2 pt., (Wright), 8:45; 3. Blast, Neely, 2 pt., (Walker), 14:35. Third quarter: 4. Kansas City, Wade, 2 pt., (Delevski), 5:18; 5. Blast, Johnson, 2 pt., (Walker), 8:42; 6. Blast, Celenza, 2 pt., (Wright), 14:14. Penalties: Kansas City, Develski, (tripping), 14:12. Fourth quarter: 7. Kansas City, Hunjak, 2 pt., (Sawatzky), 2:37; 8. Blast, Cabral, 1 pt., 10:22. Penalties: Kansas City, (bench misconduct), 10:22. Shots on goal: Kansas City 6-4-5-14 - 29; Blast 6-12-6-8 - 32. Power-play opportunities: Kansas City 0-for-0; Blast 1-for-1. Goalkeepers: Kansas City, D'Amico, 21 shots, 16 saves; Blast, Hileman, 19 shots, 16 saves. A - 5,682.

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