Blast schools weakened KiXX, 12-7

Wakefield scores 3 goals

defense toughens at end


February 27, 2003|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA -- If the Blast goes on to capture third place and the final playoff spot in the Major Indoor Soccer League's Eastern Conference, it will be able to look back to yesterday as a pivotal time when good fortune and stand-up play perfectly entwined.

Catching the defending MISL champion Philadelphia KiXX with four defenders sitting out on suspensions and leading scorer Joe injured proved to be an ideal gift the Blast couldn't and wouldn't pass on.

Rookie P.J. Wakefield recorded his first three-goal game; goalkeeper Brett Phillips had 14 saves; newcomers Kyle Swords and Allen Eller made their first Blast goals timely; and the team buckled down to protect a fourth-quarter lead.

It added up to a feel-good, 12-7 win before 8,372 at the First Union Spectrum that handed the first-place KiXX its first home loss in 16 games.

The Blast, with six games left in the regular season, improved to 13-17 to move 1 1/2 games in front of the Harrisburg Heat (12-19) for third place. Just as importantly, the win helped the team shrug off two tough road losses over the weekend at Kansas City and Milwaukee.

With its two final regular-season home games this weekend -- tomorrow night against the second-place Cleveland Force (15-14) and Saturday against the Heat -- the Blast returns to 1st Mariner Arena with a positive to build on.

"We felt this was our playoff today, and when we look back, this result may be the one that gave us the drive to get there," said Blast coach Bobby McAvan. "We've been dropping, Harrisburg has been dropping: Who wants it?"

On a School Day promotion with a 10:35 a.m. start, the visitors raised their hands.

Trailing 5-4 late after yielding a three-pointer from Don D'Ambra early in the third quarter, the Blast scored four straight two-pointers to take a 12-5 lead that would stick.

Denison Cabral provided what would prove to be the game-winner with 1:37 left in the third quarter, putting the Blast ahead 6-5. Wakefield, finding unexpected time and space just inside the three-point line, made the score 8-5 with his second goal less than a minute later.

Then, early in the fourth quarter, shortly after the Blast killed off a penalty, Eller got behind the KiXX defense and slipped a shot under goalkeeper Peter Pappas for a 10-5 advantage. Wakefield added his third goal before Philadelphia's Kevin Sloan closed out the scoring with an extra attacker.

"I've been waiting a long time to have a breakthrough game. It took 30 games to get here, but hopefully I'll have more soon," Wakefield said. "The third quarter has been bad for us lately, and then we gave up the quick three-pointer. But we kept playing, and when our chances came, we took them."

The KiXX played without defenders Glenn Carbonara, Shawn Boney, Drew Kopp and Edgar Bartolomeu, all suspended for a post-game fight with Harrisburg on Sunday.

Blast 2 2 4 4 -- 12

Philadelphia 0 2 3 2 -- 7

First quarter: 1. Blast, Swords, 2 pt., (Kelly), 14:57. Penalties: none.

Second quarter: 2. Wakefield, 2 pt., 7:06; 3. Philadelphia, Handsor, 2 pt., Vasic, 9:07. Penalties: Blast, Regis, (tripping), 4:49; Blast, Swords, (hand ball), 8:37.

Third quarter: 4. Philadelphia, D'Ambra, 3 pt., :40; 5. Blast, Cabral, 2 pt., 13:23; 6. Blast, Wakefield, 2 pt., (Walker), 14:33. Penalties: none.

Fourth quarter: 7. Blast, Ellers, 2 pt., (Bowers), 9:21; 8. Blast, Wakefield, 2pt., (Walker), 10:59; 9. Philadelphia, Sloan, 2 pt., 12:49. Penalties: Blast, Cabral, (tripping), 4:52.

Shots on goal: Blast 3-8-8-4--23; Philadelphia 3-6-4-8--21.Shootout opportunities: Blast 0-for-0; Philadelphia 0-for-1. Power-play opportunities: Blast 0-for-0; Philadelphia 1-for-3. Goalkeepers: Blast, Phillips, 17 shots, 14 saves; Philadelphia, Pappas, 18 shots, 12 saves. Att.: 8,327.

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