Blast beaten by Wave, just missing top seed

10-9 loss gives hosts No. 2 seed for postseason

Pro Soccer

April 04, 2004|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

Milwaukee Wave forward Greg Howes leads the league in scoring by nearly a 20-point margin. For a while last night, no one at 1st Mariner Arena knew why, but by the time it was over, everyone did.

With 2:33 gone in the fourth period, Howes flew to a bouncing ball and, in mid-air, unloaded a shot that caused Blast players' heads to spin as he rammed it straight and true.

It was Howes' second consecutive goal - Milwaukee's fourth goal on its first four shots in the second half - and it went a long way toward determining the game's outcome, a 10-9 wave victory when Leighton O'Brien scored with 3:09 to play.

"That was a fantastic game," said Wave coach Keith Tozer. "You had the defending league champion against the team it beat last year for the title. What you saw was a lot of heart and passion from both sides and I think it was one of the better games I've been part of in many years."

The Wave now has the best overall record at 27-9 in the Major Indoor Soccer League's regular season and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

The Blast, which had a chance to earn the top seed, finishes second-best at 25-11 and will be the No. 2 seed. Under a tiebreaker system, the Blast had to beat the Wave by four or more goals to earn the No. 1 seed.

Both the Blast and Wave will have first-round byes. The Blast will play here April 16.

The night's passion was seen when the game ended and Blast defender Neil Gilbert had words and a physical confrontation with Todd and Troy Dusosky, and Howes on the field that carried on to the locker rooms.

"They started to make fun of us near the end of the game," said Gilbert. " ... I don't care if we win or lose, I don't like people talking trash in my face. ...

"It will be an interesting, good battle if we see them again."

Still, it was a riotous ending to a hard-fought game.

"It was a great game in which both teams played fantastic," said Blast forward Lee Tschantret, who scored his first hat trick of the season. "They scored the last goal, but our last five games are the best we've played all year. We're ready for the playoffs."

Tschantret's last two goals - one short-handed on a crowd-pleasing backward bicycle kick - tied the game at 6 and again at 9 with 7:34 still to play.

But then O'Brien, who had only 16 points all season, scored his second goal of the night.

"We gave them easy goals early on," said Blast defender Danny Kelly. "We weren't playing for four goals, we were playing to win, but we got caught pushing forward and a quality team will capitalize like they did."

Milwaukee 2 3 1 4 - 10

Blast 2 2 2 3 - 9

First quarter - 1.Blast, Kante (unassisted) 3:24; 2. Milwaukee, Fontana (O'Brien) 4:24; 3. Blast, P.J. Wakefield (Handsor) 5:05; 4. Milwaukee, Fontana (unassisted) 9:17. Penalties - Blast, Kelly (charging) 12:30. Second quarter - 5. Blast, Kelly (penalty kick) 2:50; 6.Blast, Walker (Tschantret) 2:57; 7. Milwaukee, Reiniger (O'Brien) 3:50; 8. Milwaukee, O'Brien (Howes) 10:10; 9. Milwaukee, King (O'Brien) 11:54. Penalties - Milwaukee, White (handball) 2:10; Blast, Walker (tripping) 6:07; Blast, Cabral (encroachment) 14:56. Third quarter - 10. Blast, Tschantret (Handsor) 1:02; 11. Milwaukee, Oliviero (Howes) 5:19; 12. Blast, Cabral (Farias) sixth attacker 8:30. Penalties - Milwaukee, Torres(unsportsmanlike conduct) 9:38; Blast, Gilbert (intentional handball) 13:49. Fourth quarter - 13. Blast, Tschantret (Nelson) shorthanded 0:19; 14. Milwaukee, Reiniger (Dusosky) power play 0:38; 15. Milwaukee, Howes (Morman) 1:40; 16. Milwaukee, Howes (unassisted) 2:33; 17. Blast, Cabral (Farias 4:26; 18. Blast, Tschantret (unassisted) 7:26; 19. Milwaukee, O'Brien (unassisted) 11:51. Penalties - None. Shots on goal - Milwaukee - 12-12-1-5-30; Blast - 6-5-9-14-34. Power-play opportunities - Milwaukee 1-for-3; Blast 1-for-1. Penalty kicks - Milwaukee 0-for-0; Blast 1-for-1. Shootout opportunities - Milwaukee 0-for-0; Blast 0-for-0. Goalkeepers - Milwaukee, Green, 12 saves; Blast, Hileman, 13 saves, Celenza 0 saves, Kelly 0 saves. A - 6,648.

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