Blast defense packs up Sockers, 3-1

Second-half goals seal third straight victory

Soccer

November 22, 2003|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Blast and the San Diego Sockers hooked up last night in a game that brought back memories of what often happened when the teams met during their glory years in the 1980s.

San Diego seemed to win most of those games and championships, but last night belonged to the Blast and its defense in a 3-1 victory before 7,106 at 1st Mariner Arena.

The Blast (5-3) got second-half goals from P.J. Wakefield, Danny Kelly and Wendell Regis to win its third straight game to move to within a half-game of idle, first-place Philadelphia in the Major Indoor Soccer League's Eastern Division.

"It was our defense that [did it] tonight," Blast coach Tim Wittman said. "I think that was our best win."

The Blast overcame its first scoreless first half of the season and used its stingy defense to rarely allow San Diego scoring chances. Goalkeeper goalie Scott Hileman, who made seven saves, took care of the Sockers when they did threaten.

"That's what we were trying to do, play strong defense," Kelly said. "It was a just a great defensive effort."

The Blast killed all three San Diego power plays with little trouble and kept breaking up passes and clearing the ball throughout the game, battling back from a 1-0 halftime deficit.

"We just kept going," Wakefield said. "We matched their intensity and came away with a win."

The Blast held a 21-16 edge in shots on goal and came up with most of the scoring chances, but had problems solving San Diego goalie Victor Nogueira. At 44, he repeatedly robbed the Blast in every way possible, finished with 13 saves.

The Blast couldn't score in a first half that saw it come up with several good opportunities. Baltimore often controlled play in the early minutes, consistently clearing the ball and stopping San Diego's scoring threats. The Sockers didn't get their first shot on goal until the first minute of the second period.

But the Sockers took a 1-0 lead when Sean Bowers - a Blast player last season who got his championship ring in a ceremony before the game - greeted his former team with a shot off a re-start that caromed off Blast defender Billy Nelson's foot and in with 6:19 left in the first half.

Kelly appeared to tie it for the Blast after a scramble in front with 1:01 remaining in the second period, but the officials called dangerous play and waved it off.

The Blast broke through 3:03 into the second half, when Wakefield scored after taking a nice pass from Denison Cabral.

Baltimore took the lead for good with 7:11 left in the period. Chile Farias touched a ball back to Kelly on a re-start, and he burned the Sockers, beating Nogueira with a high shot for a 2-1 lead.

San Diego 0 1 0 0 - 1

Blast 0 0 2 1 - 3

First quarter: None. Penalties: Blast, Gilbert (boarding), 1:47. Second quarter: 1. San Diego, Bowers (UA), 8:41. Third quarter: 2. Blast, Wakefield (Cabral), 3:03; 3. Blast, Kelly (Farias), 8:41 Penalties: Blast, Nelson (boarding), 10:31. Fourth quarter: 4. Blast, Regis (UA), 3:25. Penalties: Blast, Cabral (tripping), 5:49. Shots on goal: San Diego, 0-2-5-9-16; Blast 5-3-8-5-21. Power-play opportunities: San Diego 0-for-3; Blast 0-for-0. Shootout opportunities: San Diego 0-for-0; Blast 0-for-0. Goalkeepers: San Diego, Nogueira 13 saves, Aristodemo 0 saves; Blast, Hileman 7 saves. A: 7,106.

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