HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Blast endured one of those games last night when everything it attempted to piece together simply went wrong.
Genoni Martinez scored two three-point goals and Doug Petras anchored a terrific defensive effort as the Harrisburg Heat clipped the Blast, 11-2, before 3,533 at State Farm Show Arena.
Giuliano Celenza collected the lone goal for the Blast (5-12), which dropped its third straight and fell deeper into the Major Indoor Soccer League's Eastern Conference basement. The Blast trails third-place Harrisburg by 3 1/2 games.
"They earned it," said Blast coach Bobby McAvan. "They scrapped for every ball and made it very tough for us.
"It was a good, intense match, one you would expect from conference rivals. Unfortunately it takes them to .500 [9-9] and drops us further into the cellar."
That drop began to take shape in the first half when Martinez rang up both of his scores, one on a power play set up when Lance Johnson was sent off for tripping and the other just before the break on a restart from about 60 feet.
Martinez's first three-pointer actually was scored a two-pointer, but was changed at halftime when Harrisburg challenged. According to Harrisburg vice president of soccer operations Jim Pollihan, official Joe Manfre was overheard saying Martinez's shot came "with the ball on the line."
So, according to MISL rules, if the ball is on or beyond the three-point arc when struck, three points should be awarded.
"That wasn't a great start to the second half," McAvan said.
And, with Petras (7-6, 10 saves) playing his last game at home before he leaves the Heat to begin a career in law enforcement, the Harrisburg defense in front of him was superb.
The Blast could not cash in until Celenza scored with 13:44 left after Tarik Walker dug out a ball along the left boards.
Late scores by Horacio Robledo and Kevin Burk, the latter with sixth attacker Lee Tschantret on for starting keeper Brett Phillips (2-4, eight saves), put it away for Harrisburg.
Finally, the bad night was over.
NOTES: With his assist on Celenza's goal, Walker moved into second place on the Blast's all-time scoring list with 461, one more than recently departed Paul Wright. ... Tschantret was ejected after picking up his third penalty at the end of the game. He'll miss the Blast's next game Saturday at home against Cleveland. ... Danny Kelly (hamstring) returned to the Blast lineup after missing six straight games. ... The Blast's Danny Santoro suffered a knee injury early in the second quarter and did not return. ... The Blast played without forward Gino DiFlorio for the third game in a row.