Blast back in finals after dumping Dallas

Defending champs to face Milwaukee for MISL title after cruising to 6-1 win

Pro Soccer

April 17, 2004|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

When it looked as if the Dallas Sidekicks might be getting some life back near the end of the third period in last night's Major Indoor Soccer League semifinal, Blast rookie defenseman Ibrahim Kante put an end to it.

With 0.5 of a second left in the third period, Kante, 6 feet 3 and 215 pounds, set up for a corner kick. Kante's kicks are powerful, and when he unloaded this one, Dallas defender Eric Dade, who was positioned in front of the goal beside his goaltender, moved in self-defense. The ball banged off him and into the net.

"It was huge, huge," said Blast goalie Scott Hileman, who anchored his team in the 6-1 victory at 1st Mariner Arena.

"In a game like this, you know the opposing team is going to have spells. We did a hell of a job finishing our opportunities in the first period, and then in the third, you could see they started to play well. We had to weather the storm and when Ibrahim scored right at the end of the quarter [to make it 5-1], it took a lot out of them."

The win advanced the No. 2 seed Blast to the MISL's best-of-five championship series against the top-seeded Milwaukee Wave, which won its semifinal, 7-2, last night against the Kansas City Comets.

Games 1 and 2 of the series will be in Milwaukee on Friday and Saturday, with games 3 and 4 scheduled in Baltimore on May 1 and 2.

"This is the way it should be," said Blast coach Tim Wittman. "Realistically, the No. 1 and No. 2 teams should play for the title ... But this game could have easily gone the other way. Dallas is a good and very fit team. They never stopped running."

But last night, Dallas did not have a defense that could keep pace with Baltimore's speedy forwards. By the five-minute mark, the Blast had goals from Denison Cabral - who turned a series of back flips near midfield in celebration - and Lee Tschantret. And by the 10:41 mark, Chris Handsor had his second assist and Allen Eller another Blast goal.

"I tried to make the group understand - two weeks off for them [the Blast] and they had two ways to go," said Dallas coach Tatu. "Either they're flying because of their rest or they're flat because they had too much. Before we started it was 3-0, and three soft goals. That's what hurt us."

Before the first half ended, Tarik Walker had scored a power-play goal to give the Blast a 4-0 lead at halftime.

Dallas broke through 1:22 into the third period, when Patrick Shamu took a wide-open shot to Hileman's left and the ball bounced over the goalie's outstretched arm just as he seemed positioned to make the save.

"Once we were up 4-0, they had nothing to do but go forward," said Handsor.

It was obvious Dallas was building toward a fourth-quarter push. It had a goal and was keeping the Blast scoreless. But the Blast penalty killers had kept the Dallas power play from tightening the score, and with 0.5 of a second left in the third quarter, the Blast had a free kick.

Wittman looked down his bench and saw Kante, his fast developing rookie with the big left foot.

"He can hit the ball a ton and he can put it on target from anywhere," Wittman said. "I have options with this team and he's one of them. It's nice to have options."

After the game, Kante smiled.

"I didn't learn that shot," he said. "It's natural, and I did what I was supposed to do. I put it on net and now I feel happy. Now we get ready for Milwaukee and beat them, too."

Dallas 0 0 1 0 - 1

Blast 3 1 1 1 - 6

First quarter: 1. Blast, Cabral (Handsor) 1:06; 2. Blast Tschantret (Eller) 4:47; 3. Blast Eller (Handsor) 10:41. Penalties: None. Second quarter: 4. Blast, Walker (Celenza) power play, 10:35. Penalties: Dallas, Pernia (tripping) 10:16. Third quarter: Dallas, Shamu (Pernia), 1:22; Blast, Kante (unassisted), 15:00. Penalties: Blast, Nelson (holding), 11:21. Fourth quarter: Blast, Gilbert (Farias), 9:25. Penalties: None. Shots on goal: Dallas-4-4-5-14-27; Blast-6-6-9-2-23. Power-play opportunities: Dallas 0-for-1; Blast 1-for-1. Penalty kicks: Dallas 0-for-0; Blast 0-for-0. Shootout opportunities: Dallas 0-for-0; Blast 0-for-0. Goalkeepers: Dallas, D.J. Horvath, 11 saves; Blast, Hileman, 15 saves. A-5,581.

MISL playoffs

Semifinals

Yesterday

Blast 6, Dallas 1

Milwaukee 7, Kansas City 2

Championship

(Best of five; *-if necessary)

Blast vs. Milwaukee

Friday - Blast at Milwaukee, 8:35 p.m. Next Saturday - Blast at Milwaukee, 8:35 p.m. May 1 - Milwaukee at Blast, 7:35 p.m. *May 2 - Milwaukee at Blast, 7:35 p.m. *TBA - Blast at Milwaukee, TBA

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