Wakefield's OT winner lifts Blast past Fury, extends win streak to 7

Hosts get 2 goals in 4th to tie, then escape, 5-4

Pro Soccer

January 24, 2004|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

When Blast midfielder P.J. Wakefield scored the game-winning goal 11:27 into overtime last night to beat the Monterrey Fury, 5-4, nearly everyone at 1st Mariner Arena knew why someone once rhymed seven with heaven.

"It's always good to win another game and it always feels like heaven," said Wakefield, who took a pass from Billy Nelson and put it away. "They came here with a lot of energy, and we were pretty flat at the start. But even though we were behind most of the night, we knew we could score."

For the Blast, which plays again tonight on the road in Dallas against the Western Division-leading Sidekicks, getting its seventh consecutive victory was close to divine. The team had been on a six-game winning streak earlier this season, a streak that remained a season-high in the Major Indoor Soccer League until last night. But that run was stopped Dec. 13 in another overtime game when the Blast lost to the sub-.500 Kansas City Comets, 7-6.

Last night, before an enthusiastic crowd of 6,280, it looked as if the Blast (16-5) might be stopped at six again, as Monterrey played a very spirited and determined game. Though the Fury's record fell to an MISL-worst 4-14 last night, the team played as if it were 14-4.

With three new players on its roster - Gaston Pernia, Marco Coria and P. Caudido - the Fury seemed invigorated.

"It is the best game we've played," Marco Lopez (two goals) said through an interpreter. "Tonight, the first team to make a mistake loses. But I think we will get better from here. We can see results. We will practice more, and maybe still have a chance for the playoffs."

If not for a tying goal by Giuliano Celenza (two goals) with 29.8 seconds left in regulation, Monterrey would have won.

"This feels so good," said Blast forward Lee Tschantret, who assisted on a late fourth-period goal by Tarik Walker. "This is the longest winning streak we've ever had while I've been here. It's very hard to come by, and it feels particularly good because [four] of the wins in this streak have come on the road."

Monterrey challenged the Blast and forced the home team to score twice in the fourth period just to reach overtime. The Fury got two goals apiece from Lopez and Walter Gomez, and goalkeeper Hector Mireles made 15 saves.

"Their goalie played well, and you have to give them credit for a good game," said Blast goalkeeper Scott Hileman. "At the end, we just had to focus on what to do. That was the game plan: focus, pick up the intensity, simplify the game and wait for opportunities."

Monterrey scored the first goal of the game in the second period when Lopez released a shot against defender Wendell Regis that also eluded Hileman 6:24 into the second period.

That score came after Monterrey had dominated play in the opening period, outshooting the Blast 11-3.

For Monterrey, the scoreless and penalty-free period was a confidence-booster, as the Fury was able to keep the highest-scoring team in the league off the scoreboard.

But Monterrey had shown signs of improving its play earlier this week. Though the Fury lost, 8-5, to the Blast on Sunday, the team fought back from two goals down to take a lead late in the third quarter before the Blast righted itself and ran away to victory.

Monterrey 0 2 1 1 0 - 4

Blast 0 1 1 2 1 - 5

First quarter: None. Penalties: None.

Second quarter: 1. Monterrey, Lopez (Quiroz), 6:24; 2. Blast, Cabral (Kelly), 13:10, power play. 3. Monterrey, Lopez (Fernandez), 14:19. Penalties: Monterrey, Quiroz (tripping) 12:36.

Third quarter: 4. Blast, Celenza (Handsor), 1:50; 5. Monterrey, Gomez (Pernia), 14:25. Penalties: None.

Fourth quarter: 6. Blast, Walker (Tschantret), 4:33; 7. Monterrey, Gomez (Quiroz), 13:37; 8. Blast, Celenza (Farias), 14:31. Penalties: None.

First overtime: 9. Blast, Wakefield (Nelson), 11:27. Penalties: None.

Shots on goal: Monterrey - 11-8-4-6-2-31; Blast - 3-3-6-9-9-30. Power-play opportunities: Monterrey 0-for-0; Blast 1-for-1. Shootout opportunities: Monterrey 0-for-0; Blast 0-for-0. Goalkeepers: Monterrey, Mireles, 15 saves; Blast, Hileman, 12 saves. A: 6,280.

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