Back-forth goalie rotation over: Phillips to start decisive Game 3

Blast notebook


April 17, 2003|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Bobby McAvan used humor to initially sidestep the toughest decision he has had to make since taking over as Blast coach in December.

Right after the Blast's 15-12 victory over the Milwaukee Wave on Sunday, sending the Major Indoor Soccer League's championship series to a deciding third game tomorrow in Milwaukee, the obvious question came: Who would start in goal -- Scott Hileman or Brett Phillips?

McAvan first suggested a coin flip and then said whichever goalie was the quickest to buy him a glass of red wine on the flight to Milwaukee.

Yesterday, McAvan announced that Phillips, who turned back 17 shots in Sunday's win, would come back and start. The two goalkeepers had alternated on a game-by-game basis through the last 12 regular-season games and first four playoff games.

"We're down to the very last game and I decided to stick with the most recent win and go with Phillips," McAvan said. "It's based on nothing more than the fact that they've been dead even and now it's a choice, and Brett got the win for us. I just feel that mentally that might mean something to Milwaukee. We've won with him in goal the very last game we played -- I want that to add to our momentum."

Along with Sunday's win, Phillips (8-7 with a 10.45 points-against average in the regular season) was in goal for the Blast's 8-6 win in Philadelphia that clinched the Eastern Conference title, turning back 18 shots.

"I didn't expect to get the nod because we had been rotating," Phillips said. "I know Scott wanted to be in there and I wanted to be in there. You want that responsibility, and I'm excited to have the opportunity."

Phillips has played in a deciding game -- leading the Las Vegas Dust Devils to a 9-8 road win over the Dallas Sidekicks for the 1993-94 Continental Indoor Soccer League crown before a crowd of 16,660.

Celenza back on target

It was a welcome sight for Blast fans to not only see forward Giuliano Celenza return to the lineup Sunday, but to also do what he does best: put the ball in the net.

Sidelined since Feb. 26 with an injured foot -- a stretch of nine games -- the Archbishop Curley graduate and former UMBC standout took a regular shift and responded with a perfectly placed goal to the far post that gave the Blast a 9-2 lead late in the second quarter.

"I kind of got those nervous bugs in me like I was a rookie again because I've been out so long. But it was great, especially being in front of our home crowd," he said.

Tozer's way with words

After Sunday's loss, Milwaukee coach Keith Tozer called out his defenders publicly for getting "manhandled" by the Blast forwards.

"I think that was a Tozer-ism -- he's just trying to challenge his players to step it up, which is going to make my job even harder," said Blast forward Tarik Walker, who played for Tozer in his days with the Wave.

Eller adds spark

The Jan. 29 trade that sent forward Gino DiFlorio to Harrisburg for the rights to Allen Eller and Kyle Swords has turned out to be a steal for the Blast.

On Sunday, Eller's troublemaking ways up top forced a midfield turnover that eventually led to a goal by Jason Dieter to spark the Blast's pivotal seven-point second quarter.

"We have to put pressure on their defenders to let them know we're there, so they're not getting it out comfortably," Eller said. "Once they get the ball forward to Todd Dusosky, Michael King and those guys -- they can make things happen."

Quote of the week

"I know our team; there's not one guy that's nervous. We all have that confidence in one another, and we all have that comfort where we know if someone makes a mistake it's no big deal because we're going to cover for each other." -- Blast veteran forward Lee Tschantret on playing the deciding game.

Blast vs. Wave

What: Major Indoor Soccer League championship series

Format: Best of three

Series: Tied 1-1

Game 3: Tomorrow, 8:05 p.m.

Site: Bradley Center, Milwaukee

Radio: WJFK (1300 AM)

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