Blast rebounds against Sockers, 5-3

Celenza scores two goals in home-opening victory

Pro Soccer

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

With hundreds of local youth-team players sitting on the green carpet at 1st Mariner Arena last night, the Baltimore Blast accepted sparkling gold and ruby rings in celebration of last season's Major Indoor Soccer League championship, then proceeded to extend the celebration by beating the San Diego Sockers, 5-3, for its first victory of the new season.

Wearing flattering new red uniforms, with splashes of black on the sides and white names and numbers on their backs, the Blast played with a relentless desire, building on a slow start with beautiful ball control that eventually led to victory.

"Last year and the first two games this season, Baltimore has shown it is a mature team," said San Diego coach Brian Quinn. "With the talent they have, they'll never be out of games and tonight, when we closed to 4-3, we needed to assert ourselves and didn't. It's the sign of a young team, but I'm not into young teams with close losses."

And this game was close, despite the two-goal margin. But the veteran skills of Denison Cabral, Giuliano Celenza (two goals, one assist), Chile Farias and Tarik Walker put enough goals on the scoreboard and veteran goalie Sagu, playing his first game since surgery six months ago, made 17 saves to clinch it for the Blast.

The victory, coming after last weekend's season-opener in San Diego, evened both teams' records at 1-1.

"This was a much-needed win," said Blast defender Billy Nelson. "We felt we let one slip away in San Diego and we wanted to finish this time with a win.

"We didn't want to be distracted by the ring ceremony. We didn't want to make mental mistakes. We knew if we came out ready and did simple things we'd be fine."

It was San Diego that scored first, however, as the Blast had a handful of open shots that either hit posts, crossbars or goalie Victor Nogueira, the amazing 25-year veteran who made 14 saves and continues to earn his starting position at age 45.

The Sockers led 1-0 with 3:32 left in the opening period when forward Steve Butcher eluded Scott Schweitzer, stumbled under Neil Gilbert and somehow managed to get the ball to Mark Ughy. Ughy, who had two goals, including the fourth-period score that brought the Sockers within 4-3, beat Sagu at the near post on a power play.

The Blast kept attacking and, with 19.5 seconds left in the period, tied the game. P.J. Wakefield got the ball off the boards to Cabral and last season's leading goal scorer blasted it in to the net off the far post.

"I'm pleased with the outcome," said Wittman. "I'm happy with our composure and the finishing is going to come. Goal scoring-wise, everyone is off the first couple games. I'd be worried if we weren't getting the chances. But Victor was tremendous. He's 58 or whatever and he played a tremendous game."

San Diego 1 0 1 1 - 3

Blast 1 1 2 1 - 5

First quarter - 1, SD, Ughy ( Butcher) (PPG) 11:28. 2, Blast, Cabral (Wakefield) 14:40. Penalties - Butcher, SD (Holding), 7:23. Garcia, Blast (Holding), 9:38.

Second quarter - 3, Blast, Celenza ( Farias) (PPG) 5:11. Penalties - Johnson, SD (Tripping), 4:34. Nevio Pizzolitto, SD (Pushing), 4:35.

Third quarter - 4, Blast, Farias 10:57. 5, SD, Bollella (RSG) 11:41. 6, Blast, Celenza 12:34. Penalties - None.

Fourth quarter - 7, SD, Ughy ( Wright) 2:32. 8, Blast, Walker ( Celenza) (PPG) 9:11. Penalties - Pizzolitto, SD (Boarding), 7:36. Wright, SD (Tripping), 12:47.

Shots on goal - San Diego 2-6-7-7- 22; Blast 7-6-3-10 -26. Power-play conversions: San Diego - 1 of 2, Blast 2 of 5. Goalies - San Diego : Victor Nogueira (19, 14, 5, 58:23) Paul Wright (0, 0, 0, 1:37) Blast - Sagu (17, 14, 3, 60:00). A - 8,153. Officials: Ted Grigourio, Jason Krnac, Mark Bailey.

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