Blast sews up a berth in big way, delivering 18-6 drubbing to Heat

Everybody gets in act in playoff-clinching effort

thoughts turn to Wave

Soccer

April 07, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The road to the postseason was never well-paved and the Blast was often caught without directions over the course of the regular season, but the team indeed found its way last night, locking up the fourth and final playoff spot with a finely-executed, 18-6 win over the visiting Harrisburg Heat.

A Baltimore Arena crowd of 2,894 left more than satisfied, watching the home team win by its second-largest margin of the season, getting goals from six different players and a unified defensive effort in front of keeper Scott Hileman, who only needed to make 11 saves.

Denison Cabral and Tarik Walker each scored a two-point goal and had three assists and Lee Tschantret also accumulated five points with two two-pointers and an assist to lead the way.

Building off a 20-18 win in Kansas City on Thursday, the Blast (18-23) made this afternoon's game at first-place Milwaukee meaningless with its performance last night.

The one that will count against the Wave now officially comes later this month when the teams meet in the Major Indoor Soccer League's one-game semifinal. The game at the Bradley Center is tentatively set for April 19.

"Bottom line, we're in the playoffs," said Tschantret. "We've fought through a lot and are still fighting through a lot. We've had a ton of injuries and a lot of bounces didn't go our way, and a lot of the team could have easily folded, but we didn't. Hopefully, we're on a good groove right now and we can keep it going."

The Heat (10-31) had been a roadblock, delaying the Blast's playoff entry with two wins on back-to-back nights late last month, but it was all Blast last night.

By the looks of things, it was hard to imagine the Blast has only put together one three-game winning streak and two two-game runs. A dazzling, one-minute burst of offense from the team late in the first quarter was the start of the end for the last-place Heat.

Paul Wright and Tschantret scored 12 seconds apart and then Danny Kelly finished off a half-volley in close to give the Blast a 6-2 lead with 2:15 left in the first quarter.

Explosive in the first period, the Blast was methodical in scoring three more times in the second quarter to essentially put the game away.

Five of the Blast's six first-half goals came with an assist attached - a clear sign of a team playing well together.

Tschantret showed a great touch in getting the ball across the crease on Kelly's goal in the first quarter and Walker had an easy tap-in off a nifty look from Cabral at the top of the circle that completed 12 unanswered Blast points late in the second quarter for a 12-2 lead.

"When we put our minds to it and everybody wants to get up and down the floor, we can do it," said Blast midfielder Danny Kelly. "That's what it takes - a commitment from everybody on the team - defense first and we'll get opportunities offensively and we showed that the last two games.

"We're starting to get the job done. We've just got to continue to do it and bring that into the [playoff] game in Milwaukee."

Wright, Kelly and Tschantret will not make the trip to Wisconsin for today's game, allowing each to rest nagging injuries.

Harrisburg 2 2 2 0 - 6

Blast 6 6 6 0 - 18

First quarter: 1. Harrisburg, Knowles, 2 pt., (Karic), 5:46; 2. Blast, Wright, 2 pt., (Walker), 11:42; 3. Blast, Tschantret, 2 pt., 11:54; 4. Blast, Kelly, 2 pt., (Tschantret), 12:45. Penalties: none. Second quarter: 5. Blast, Cabral, 2 pt., (Walker), 2:57; 6. Blast, Bader, 2 pt., (Walker), 10:46; 7. Blast, Walker, 2 pt., (Cabral), 12:21; 8. Harrisburg, Cornelli, 2 pt., (Morman), 13:42. Penalties: none. Third quarter: 9. Blast, Johnson, 2 pt., (Cabral), 4:53; 10. Blast, Tschantret, 2 pt., (Cabral), 8:28; 11. Harrisburg, Webb, 2 pt., (Cornelli), 9:37; 12. Blast, Celenza, 2 pt., (Kelly), 10:37. Penalties: Harrisburg, Mormon, (holding), 10:35. Fourth quarter: none. Penalties:

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