Leading in fourth quarter, Blast crashes, is ousted by Wave, 18-12

Milwaukee rallies late, moves on to MISL finals


April 20, 2002|By Charles F. Gardner | Charles F. Gardner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

MILWAUKEE - Nobody would have blamed the Blast for thinking it didn't have a chance.

After all, the Milwaukee Wave was 22-0 at home this season and entered last night's Major Indoor Soccer League playoff semifinal with a 28-game winning streak at the Bradley Center.

But the fourth-seeded Blast put on an inspired performance in the single-elimination semifinal, leading after three quarters before finally falling to the Wave, 18-12.

Trailing by one point entering the fourth quarter, the Wave rode forward Joe Reiniger's hot left foot, outscoring the Blast 7-0 to end the game. Top-seeded Milwaukee needed three goals in the final quarter, two by Reiniger and one by forward Sipho Sibiya, to finally subdue the fourth-seeded Blast before 9,953 fans.

"I thought it was just two teams battling," said Blast forward Lee Tschantret, who finished with a hat trick. "I thought the difference was we had a lot of chances at the doorstep that we didn't finish.

"And [Wave goalie] Victor [Nogueira] came up big on four or five really good saves, and there you go, that's the difference."

The Blast launched 51 shots and forced Nogueira to make 18 saves as Milwaukee survived to reach the MISL finals. It will attempt to win a third straight indoor title and fourth in the last five years Friday, when it meets the Philadelphia KiXX in a best-of-three series that opens here.

The KiXX advanced with an 18-13 victory over the Kansas City Comets in the other league semifinal, played at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo.

In addition to Tschantret's three-goal performance, defender Sean Bowers added a goal and two assists as Baltimore dearly tried to spoil the Wave's party.

"It kind of shocked us a little bit how they came out and were aggressive and got their goals," said Wave coach Keith Tozer. "I think we settled down. Joe's goal was big, and Sipho's goal was very big.

"We like to win our game on defense, but we also have a lot of power."

Reiniger, who missed the Wave's final five regular-season games with a hamstring injury, provided the power with a critical three-pointer in the final quarter. That gave Milwaukee a 16-12 lead at 5:26 of the period, the first semi-comfortable margin of the night.

"We had the momentum going until then," said Bowers, who took 16 shots and had several blasts saved by Nogueira. "[Reiniger] always seems to do it when they need them, and that's the sign of a great player."

Reiniger then hit a shot with the outside of his left foot, running onto a ball played by Michael King. The ball was struck with such pace that it ricocheted off the outstretched arm of Blast goalkeeper Scott Hileman.

Tschantret scored a hat trick in the first half as the Blast put pressure on the favored Wave from the outset.

Blast 6 4 2 0 - 12

Milwaukee 5 6 0 7 - 18

First quarter: 1. Blast, Tschantret, :38. 2. Milwaukee, Torres, 5:28. 3. Milwaukee, Ackah (Sibiya), 3-point goal, 7;59. 4. Blast, Santoro (Bowers), 10:11. 5. Blast, Tschantret (Bowers), 13:37.

Second quarter: 6. Milwaukee, Schmidt (Reiniger), restart goal, :17. 7. Milwaukee, Sibiya (Loftin), 5:31. 8. Blast, Tschantret (Cabral), 6:44. 9. Blast, Walker (Wright), 12:41. 10. Milwaukee, Sibiya (Reiniger), 13:42.

Third quarter: 11. Blast, Bowers (Kelly), restart goal, 4:03.

Fourth quarter: 12. Milwaukee, Sibiya (Howes), 2:35. 13. Milwaukee, Reiniger (King), 3-point goal, 5;26. 14. Milwaukee, Reiniger (King), 8:27.

Shots-Blast 51, Milwaukee 37. Saves-Blast 12 (Hileman 11, Bowers 1), Milwaukee 18 (Nogueira 18). Blocks-Blast 18 (Bowers 5, Johnson 5), Milwaukee 27 (Carbonara 7). Fouls-Blast 13, Milwaukee 19. A - 9,953. Referees - Ted Grigoriou, Tim Tyma.

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