Title prizes inspire Blast to 8-4 win over Fury

Rings cue scoring surge in game `we had to win'

Pro Soccer

November 09, 2003|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

CHAMPIONSHIP RINGS — A year ago, no one expected the Blast to win the Major Indoor Soccer League championship, but it did and, last night, the team celebrated again.

Championship rings - each a gold band with a gold soccer ball studded with tiny rubies embedded in an onyx stone - were presented in a ceremony before the Blast's game with the Monterrey (Mexico) Fury.

It was just the start of a glorious night for the Blast.

The Blast started slowly, falling behind by a goal, but came on to win, 8-4, with dominating defense and timely goals.

"You look at our schedule and you know this is a game we had to win," said Blast goalie Scott Hileman, who returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sprained shoulder.

"They're new to the league and it's a home game. You've got to win those, especially with Cleveland coming up. Cleveland's going to be real tough."

Hileman was in fine form. He made the big saves when he had to and he jump-started the team's scoring with an outlet pass to Giuliano Celenza with about 25 seconds to go in the first period.

It was a ball Celenza carried into the box and slammed past Monterrey goalie Hector Mireles before turning a somersault to celebrate tying the game at 1.

He was the first of five Blast players to find the back of the net at 1st Mariner Arena.

"The team has been struggling a little bit getting goals," said Denison Cabral, who had two fourth-quarter goals, including one on a penalty kick. "This was a little different. Everybody contributed and it felt good because we had a lot of injuries and we worked hard to overcome them."

It was a nice change of pace. Blast coach Tim Wittman had only to look to the team's previous game in Philadelphia - a 9-4 loss - to see how different each game can be. His team has been shooting the ball, but with little to show for it.

"Most of our games are like the first period of this one," Wittman said, looking at the score sheet and seeing his team had outshot the Fury 9-4 in the first quarter.

"We shoot a dozen times and get nothing and the other team shoots once and scores. Tonight, though, we stayed with it, and though some individuals came up big at key moments, overall the entire team played well and we got the result."

The Blast was without two defenders, Wendell Regis and Dewan Bader, and midfielder Danny Kelly, and asked forwards Lee Tschantret and P.J. Wakefield to play in the back, roles they seemed to relish.

"It was nice having them back there with me," Hileman said. "They're forwards. You know they want to get the ball and they played very well."

Chile Farias had four assists for the Blast.

The Blast, now 3-3 overall and 3-1 at home, will play Cleveland, 3-2 following last night's 7-4 loss to Philadelphia, here Friday.

Blast 1 3 1 3 - 8

Monterrey 1 0 2 1 - 4

First quarter: 1. Monterrey, Fernandez (Flanagan), 7:46; 2. Blast, Celenza (Hileman), 14:36. Penalties: Blast, Gilbert, (tripping and dissent), 11:21. Second quarter: 3. Blast, Tschantret (UA), 3:34; 4. Blast, Celenza (2) (Farias), 9:12; 5. Blast, Nelson (Farias), 13:59. Penalties: Monterrey, Galvan, (holding), 1:04; Monterrey, Valdivia (charging), 4:48. Third quarter: 6. Monterrey, Fernandez, 8:52; 7. Blast, Bascome (UA), 11:52; 8. Monterrey, Lopez, 13:54. Penalties: Blast, Tschantret (tripping), 5:58. Fourth quarter: 9. Blast, Cabral (penalty kick), 5:12; 10. Blast Cabral (Farias), 9:09; 11. Monterrey, Fernandez (Perez), 10:21; 12. Blast, Nelson (Farias), 12:33. Penalties: Monterrey, Flanagan (handball), 5:11; Monterrey, De La Rosa (holding), 6:55. Shots on goal: Monterrey 4-4-8-3-19; Blast 9-9-3-9-30. Power-play opportunities: Monterrey 0-for-2; Blast 1-for-3. Penalty shot opportunities: Monterrey 0-for-0; Blast 1-for-1. Goalkeepers: Monterrey, Mireles, 12 saves; Blast, Hileman, 9 saves. A: 6,154.

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