Up by 6, Blast falls to KiXX, 16-14

Two 5-point lapses costly as Philly accepts gifts


February 14, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The middle-of-the-week special for a sparse Baltimore Arena crowd of 2,035 last night was buy one ticket and get one free.

The Blast also offered a special of its own to the visiting Philadelphia KiXX: five points here and five points there.

A 50-second lapse by the home team late in the first half was followed up by 40 seconds of generosity early in the fourth quarter, just enough to send the KiXX home with a look-what-I-found, 16-14 win.

The Blast permitted five points in both of the KiXX spurts - three-point restart goals off defensive breakdowns in each - to go into the All-Star break with a disappointing, 13-14 mark that has it fourth in the six-team Major Indoor Soccer League. The team has nine days to fret about a second straight loss to the KiXX (17-10) before traveling to Kansas City on Feb. 22.

"We have veteran players, and these are rookie mistakes that are happening. We've got to stop those things from happening," said Blast captain Lance Johnson. "Whatever it is, I don't know what it is. ... You accept the physical mistakes, but you can't accept the mental mistakes, and we're making some bad mental mistakes. It's hurting us."

The loss put a damper on a career-best performance from second-year forward Giuliano Celenza, who scored three goals and added an assist that helped the Blast lead most of the way.

"It's the first time I pulled through with three goals," said Celenza. "Tonight, I came out and was at the right place at the right time and put three in the net, but it's disappointing losing the game."

Up 10-4 at one point in the second quarter and appearing to be one more goal away from dismissing the KiXX, the Blast instead was ahead only 12-11 going into the fourth quarter.

It was an open invitation for the visitors to stay around.

Omid Namazi finished off a three-pointer, and Kevin Sloan scored less than a minute later to give the KiXX a 16-12 lead that held up despite Celenza's third goal with 27 seconds left.

"We were ahead the majority of the game, and we gave up some bad restart goals. That can't happen. Shots have to be stopped. Guys have to make blocks. It was a winnable game that was right there for us, and we didn't get it done," said Blast coach Kevin Healey.

"What we're going to do is sit down with people individually and do what we've got to do," he said. "We keep saying it's a veteran team, but maybe they're looking forward to the playoffs too much. They've got to worry about their game right now, because we have to improve our game. This is a game we needed to win."

The late second-quarter spell spoiled an otherwise resourceful effort from the Blast in the first half.

After building a 10-4 lead behind two opening goals from Celenza and second-quarter goals from Denison Cabral, Tarik Walker and Billy Nelson, the Blast was generous in allowing the KiXX to close within 10-9 at the break.

NOTES: The MISL had an allocation draft on Monday to distribute players from two former World Indoor Soccer League teams, the Sacramento Knights and Utah Freezz, that will not be joining the league next year. Selecting eighth in the first round, the Blast took Sacramento defender Iain Fraser, who had 49 blocks in 24 games and also was the Knights' coach last season. The Blast chose two more Sacramento players in the following rounds, defender Ty Beasley and midfielder Mike Preis, before selecting Utah defender Glenn Puckrin in the fourth round.

Philadelphia 2 7 2 5 - 16 Blast 4 6 2 2 - 14

First quarter: 1. Blast, Celenza, 2 pt., 4:12; 2. Philadelphia, Scigliano, 2 pt., 7:48; 3. Blast, Celenza, 2 pt., (Wright), 10:33. Penalties: Philadelphia, bench, (too many men), 11:44.

Second quarter: 4. Philadelphia, Vasic, 2 pt., (Marinos), :24; 5. Blast, Cabral, 2 pt., (Walker), 2:45; 6. Blast, Walker, 2 pt., 4:18; 7. Blast, Nelson, 2 pt., (Cabral), 5:07; 8. Philadelphia, Hesch, 3 pt., 12:01; 9. Philadelphia, Handsor, 2 pt., (Pappas), 12:50. Penalties: none.

Third quarter: 10. Blast, Bowers, 2 pt., (Celenza), 7:05; 11. Philadelphia, Shaker, 2 pt., (Namazi), 11:16. Penalties: Philadelphia, DePalma (tripping), 11:45.

Fourth quarter: 12. Philadelphia, Namazi, 3 pt., 3:02; 13. Philadelphia, Sloan, 2 pt., 3:49; Blast, Celenza, 2 pt., (Tschantret), 14:32. Penalties: none.

Shots on goal: Philadelphia 6-11-5-7 - 29; Blast 11-9-6-7 - 33. Power-play opportunities: Philadelphia 0-for-0; Blast 0-for-1. Shootout opportunities: Philadelphia 0-for-0; Blast 0-for-1. Goalkeepers: Philadelphia, Pappas, 22 shots, 15 saves; Blast, Hileman, 20 shots, 13 saves. A -- 2,035.

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