Blast helps its cause with 25-17 win

Thinking playoff berth, Kelly-led team turns tables on strong Comets


March 30, 2002|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

With a season high in points, the Blast took a big step toward solidifying the last playoff spot in the Major Indoor Soccer League last night.

Using corner kicks, skillful passing and a defense that was good enough, the Blast rolled to a 25-17 victory over the visiting Kansas City Comets.

In fourth place with a 16-22 record, the Blast combined its victory with a 10-9 win by Milwaukee over fifth-place Cleveland to expand its lead to 3 1/2 games and lower its magic number to three, with six games left on the schedule.

"This was huge," said Blast midfielder Danny Kelly, who recorded his second hat trick of the season. "Cleveland is right on our tail. But if we keep on winning, we get in the playoffs."

The road to victory doesn't get any easier today. The Blast will be in Philadelphia tonight to play the second-place KiXX (22-15). The KiXX is well rested, having not played since March 22, when it lost to the Blast for only the second time in nine meetings this season.

Last night, after beating the hot Comets, who had won eight of their previous 10 games coming into the Baltimore Arena, the Blast did not seem too worried.

"It comes with the territory," said Blast goalie Scott Hileman, who, like his teammates, got better and better as last night's game went on.

"You can look at going to Philly in a couple ways. They're fresh, but we just played and we've still got our legs. If we can get by the mental side, we'll be fine."

The Blast never let the Comets build a lead. In fact, it was the Blast that scored first, on a goal by Tarik Walker, and answered everything the Comets tried.

"Kansas City is a very explosive team," said Blast coach Kevin Healey. "They get out very fast on the ball and, in the first period, our defense struggled. But we talked about it and began concentrating on not giving them the ball."

Having Kelly, who missed 12 games with an injured foot before returning to the lineup last Saturday, made a difference as he settled the defense and exhibited a great deal of heart down the stretch, scoring the Blast's last three goals.

"I think the Blast showed fire and intensity from the start of this game," said Kansas City coach Zoran Savic, whose team had battered the Blast, 21-12, in their last meeting.

"When they made it 14-10, we knew we were in trouble."

Kelly got the ball to Giuliano Celenza for the goal (that made it 14-10) on a corner kick, the second of three such scores by the Blast last night.

Walker had his foot or head in each of Baltimore's first-period goals. He scored from the near post to give the Blast a 2-0 lead, knocked in a header to forge a 4-4 tie and then assisted Denison Cabral on a goal with just 56 seconds left to send the Blast into the second period with a 6-6 tie.

Kansas City 6 4 0 7 - 17

Blast 6 4 4 11 - 25

First quarter: 1.Blast, Walker, 2pts (Bowers), :48; 2. Kansas City, Hinkey, 2 pts,(D.Zotinca),5:45; 3.Kansas City, Hinkey 2 pts.,(A.Zotinca), 9:09; 4. Blast, Walker, 2 pts., (Celenza), 11:01; 5. Kansas City, Leone, 2 pts., (Hinkey), 11:55; 6. Blast, Cabral, 2 pts., (Walker), 14:03. Penalties: none.

Second quarter: 7. Kansas City, Delevski, 2 pts., (DaSilva), :41; 8. Blast, Fraser, 3pts, 9:11; 9. Kansas City, Davis, 2 pts., (Delevski),13:50 (pp); 10. Blast, Cabral, 1 pt. (shootout) 13:50. Penalties: Blast, Cabral, (tripping), 12:34. Kansas City, Hinkey, (misconduct), 13:50.

Third quarter: 11. Blast, Bowers, 2 pts., (Kremer), 10:52; 12. Blast, Celenza, 2 pts, (Kelly), 12:42. Penalties: Kansas City, A.Zotinca (tripping), 2:35. Blast, Cabral (holding), 3:58.

Fourth quarter: 13. Kansas City, Andonovski, 2 pts., :59; 14. Blast, Fraser, 2 pts., (Kremer), 4:15; 15. Blast, Bowers, 2 pts., (Tschantret), 6:27; 16. Kansas City, D. Zotinca, 2 pts., (Andonovski), 7:57; 17. Blast, Kelly, 2 pts., (Bowers), 8:09. 18. Kansas City, Delevski, 3 pts., 9:38; 19. Blast, Kelly, 2 pts, (Celenza), 10:23; 20. Blast, Kelly, 3 pts., 12:58. Penalties: none.

Shots on goal: Kansas City - 11-7-6-14-37; Blast - 10-11-13-10-45. Power-play opportunities: Kansas City 1-for-2; Blast 0-for-1. Shoot-out opportunities: Kansas City 0-for-0; Blast 1-for-1. Goalkeepers: Comets, Bowes, 27 shots faced, 17 saves; Blast, Hileman, 19 shots faced, 11 saves. A-3,092.

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