It's a first: Blast wins 2nd in a row

Playoffs still within range after fourth-quarter rally, 17-12 win over Sockers

Soccer

January 26, 2003|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

A victory, and then another one right after.

It might not seem like much, but for the Blast it's a first this season and, more importantly, last night's 17-12 win over the San Diego Sockers kept the team in close range of the Harrisburg Heat for third place and the final playoff spot in the Major Indoor Soccer League's Eastern Conference.

Following up on Friday night's 15-7 win over the Kansas City Comets, the Blast improved to 9-14 for the season, staying a half game behind the Heat, which beat Cleveland, 17-10, last night to improve to 10-14. A crowd of 3,368 at 1st Mariner Arena watched the home team dominate the fourth quarter for a second straight night.

Just how dominant has the Blast been in the final 15 minutes? In the two games, the Blast has scored 15 points (eight last night to come back from a 12-9 deficit), while limiting the two opponents to zero.

"We showed that we're not going to be counted out," said Blast coach Bobby McAvan, now 5-5 since taking over in December. "The talk [after the third quarter] was we weren't out of this game; let's play it to the final whistle.

"It was just a good feeling. The heads didn't go down like I'd seen in the past. We wanted so badly to put two wins together. It's all about the players - just great character."

Positive trends are forming for the Blast, which is starting to find a determined identity under McAvan.

Dewan Bader (six points) has found a home back at midfield, team leading scorer Denison Cabral found his scoring touch with a pair of two-point goals in the dominating fourth quarter, and the visiting team is finding it difficult to come to Baltimore and leave a winner. The Blast is 7-6 at home, 5-1 since McAvan took over.

Former Blast midfielder Paul Wright was held scoreless last night, but Carlos Farias and Marlano Bollella left an impression offensively for the Sockers. Bollella put in three passes from Farias, who also provided a three-pointer.

But the Blast came out in the fourth quarter determined not to make Friday's effort a waste.

Cabral took a ball off the boards from P.J. Wakefield to cut the lead to 12-11 with 10:31 left; Craig Scheer provided the game-winner, a one-timer from Bader; Cabral again, followed by a back flip with a little extra hop; and then a restart goal from Danny Kelly to wrap it up.

"It's nice to get back with two big wins at home. The team needed that and this is a perfect time," said Cabral, who has a team-high 44 points. "The team is working hard and the goals are coming from everyone.

"We're winning and I was pretty happy to be able to put two goals in the net and help us. It came at a good time."

Two goals from Bollella gave the Sockers a 4-0 lead early in the second quarter, but the Blast scored seven unanswered points to close out the first half with a 7-4 advantage.

"We're working hard for each other up and down the field and starting to believe we can win games," said Kelly, who had two goals and an assist for five points.

"We talk before games, saying it's not going to be anything magical that turns this season around. It's going to be getting down and dirty and doing all the little things and working hard every shift. All the players believe in what we're doing."

NOTES: Forward Giuliano Celenza was out of the Blast lineup last night with the flu. ... When the tape of the national anthem wasn't cued up before last night's game, one section of the crowd began singing and the rest of the fans followed. ... Former Blast favorite Doug Neely is in town checking out his old team. He lives in Newport, Calif., and works for a printing company as a sales representative.

San Diego 2 2 8 0 - 12

Blast 0 7 2 8 - 17

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