Blast sweeps, repeats as MISL titlist

6-2 win dispatches Wave

Hileman is named MVP

May 02, 2004|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

Nearly 10,000 fans were on their feet cheering at 1st Mariner Arena last night as red and gold confetti blew into the air in celebration of the Blast's sweep of the Milwaukee Wave in the Major Indoor Soccer League championship series.

The No. 2 seeded Blast won Game 3 of the best-of-five series, 6-2, with an effort that included superb team defense and an outstanding performance by goalie Scott Hileman, who had 14 saves and was named the series' Most Valuable Player.

"Championships are won by every single member of the team," said Hileman, as he accepted his trophy in front of 9,862 fans. "This is wonderful. ... We put our bodies on the line and defended with everything we had."

The championship is the second straight for the Blast, which also beat No. 1 seed Milwaukee on the road last year. Overall, it is the Blast's third championship, with its first coming in 1983-84.

"I think this title feels better than the ones I won as a player," said Blast coach Tim Wittman, who celebrated in the locker room with a cigar and a bottle of champagne in each hand. "This is unbelievable. Maybe it's because you're wishing 20 guys on your team the best, and because everyone on this team got along, and we had fun and did things in a relaxed way."

It is the first title the Blast has won with a sweep of its opponent, and the first time in six championship series that Milwaukee has been swept.

"We lost this series in Game 1," said Milwaukee coach Keith Tozer, referring to the 12-3 defeat that was the worst playoff loss in team history. "They came out with fire and fight. I take my hat off to the Baltimore Blast and Tim Wittman. That first game was a big chink in our armor and a big confidence boost for them."

Blast captain Tarik Walker said there was a point in the third quarter of Game 1 when he looked into the faces of the Milwaukee players and knew they were beaten.

"They were giving all they had, and we were destroying them," Walker said. "At a certain point, I saw their deflation and I thought we're going to win both the games here and go home."

"We just weren't able to come back from that first blowout," said Wave forward Greg Howes. "We gave everything we had tonight, but Baltimore had outstanding play from all of its players. Just pick one, anyone, everyone of them did something special in this series."

The Wave, knowing it had to rekindle its offense, showed heart and skill in the first half, and if not for a brilliant effort by Hileman, who stopped headers, back-heeled surprises and wicked straight-on bullets, the game could have been different.

"I told Scottie before the game, `You keep us in it and we'll win it for you,' " said the Blast's Chris Handsor. "He made saves in this series and all season long that I've never seen him do before. He's really why we won. He came up big every time we needed a key save."

Hileman held in the first two periods, as David Bascome and Handsor kept pace with Howes and Giuliano Olivero on the scoreboard. And then came the marvelous third quarter in which the Blast allowed the Wave just one shot. And from that smothering defense came the offense.

"Milwaukee came with everything they had, but we did what we've been doing the whole series," said the Blast's Danny Kelly. "We got five guys behind the ball. When we do that, our offense thrives."

With 4:45 gone, Handsor saw Kelly making a run into the far side of the box, and delivered the ball at the perfect moment for Kelly to put it away in stride. Kelly, who was just steps away from the far post when he scored, slammed so hard into the boards and glass beside the goal mouth that he knocked himself down, but he was on his feet again in an instant to join in the celebration of what would be the game-winning goal.

"Whenever you step on the field, you have to prove you're better than the next guy," said Walker. "Tonight, we proved we're a top team in a top organization. It's an extremely happy feeling."

Milwaukee 1 1 0 0 - 2

Blast 1 1 2 2 - 6

First quarter- 1. Blast Bascome (unassisted) 3:40; 2. Milwaukee Howes (unassisted) 12:10.Penalties - None. Second quarter - 3. Milwaukee Oliviero (Howes) 8:27; 4. Blast Handsor (Cabral) 9:09. Penalties - Blast, Gilbert (tripping), 11:40. Third quarter- 5. Blast Kelly (Handsor) 4:45; 6. Blast Tschantret (Farias) 13:50. Penalties - None. Fourth quarter- 7. Blast Cabral (Farias) 7:31; 8. Blast Tschantret (Wakefield),(sixth attacker), 11:03. Penalties - Blast, Tschantret (misconduct) 12:48; Milwaukee, O'Brien (misconduct) 12:48. Shots on goal - Milwaukee - 10-4-1-6-21; Blast - 8-5-4-7-24. Power-play opportunities - : Milwaukee 0-for-1; Blast 0-for-0. Penalty kicks - Milwaukee 0-for-0; Blast 0-for-0. Shootout opportunities - Milwaukee 0-for-0; Blast 0-for-0. Goalkeepers - Milwaukee Green, 10 saves, Troy Dusosky, 0 saves, Lovelace Ackan 0 saves; Blast, Hileman, 14 saves. A- 9,862.

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