Blast opens up flat, closes with 8-7 loss

Comets' 5-2 halftime edge leads to third defeat in row for Wittman's team

Pro Soccer

February 19, 2005|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Blast's effort in last night's game against Kansas City left coach Tim Wittman both bewildered and frustrated.

Wittman loved how his team dominated play in the second half. But Kansas City took advantage of a very flat Blast first half, eventually taking a four-goal, third-period lead and holding on for an 8-7 victory before 7,312 at the 1st Mariner Arena.

The defeat left Wittman wondering about his team's effort in its third consecutive loss.

"Not good enough in the first half," Wittman said. "Kansas City came out buzzing in the first half, and you've got to do it for 60 minutes. What [ticked] me off is the work rate. They had the energy in the second half, but where was the energy in the first half?"

Kansas City (10-12) made life difficult for the Blast (11-14) in the early minutes. The Blast had problems clearing the ball, creating any consistent offense and just stopping a Comet offense that had command for much of the first 30 minutes.

The Comets entered the game tied with Cleveland for last place in the Major Indoor Soccer League but looked more like a playoff team, beating the Blast to nearly every loose ball in the first two quarters and finding numerous good shots while building a 5-2 halftime lead.

"They came out and put a lot of pressure on us," said Blast defender Danny Kelly. "They definitely outplayed us in the first half. As a team, there are no excuses for that."

The Blast seemed to awaken after the Comets stretched the lead to 6-2 in the third period, the home team scoring twice in that quarter and three more times in the fourth. Kansas City saw its lead cut to one twice and had to hang on through an unusual series of events.

The Comets were leading 8-7 when goalie Sanaldo was called for an intentional handball with 4:34 left. Defender Vlatko Andonovski already had three goals and one assist and stepped in when Sanaldo had to go off. Andonovski then needed to stay in goal until 59.5 seconds remained as the Comets couldn't get a play stoppage to get Sanaldo back on.

Andonovski made two big saves that helped Kansas City hold the lead and frustrated the Blast even more.

"Someone had to take the jersey, and I just volunteered," Andonovski said. "The game was on the line, and the guys playing in front of me did an unbelievable job."

This was just a night when nothing seemed to go the Blast's way. Kansas City scored four first-period goals, the last with one second left. The Comets also got a short-handed goal, two off restarts, a power-play goal just five seconds into a penalty and survived Andonovski's experience in goal.

Chile Farias sparked the Blast with his hat trick. Two of Farias' goals came in the second half. Giuliano Celenza added a goal and an assist, but the Blast repeatedly seemed to be one step too late and just a little bit off.

"How can you be flat at home? I don't know what it is," Wittman said. "Is it because we won two years in a row? They've got to be stronger than that."

Kansas City 4 1 2 1 - 8

Blast 2 0 2 3 - 7

First quarter - 1, KC, Andonovski (Delevski) 3:12. 2, KC, Fabinho(Evans) 4:12. 3, Blast, Farias (Kelly) 6:51. 4, Blast, Wakefield 9:01. 5, KC, Stokich (Andonovski) 13:49. 6, KC, Beasley (Barton) 14:59. Penalties - None. Second quarter - 7, KC, Andonovski (SHG RSG) 6:05. Penalties - Koehler, KC (Tripping), 5:32. Tschantret, Blast (Unsportsmanlike conduct), 5:32. Third quarter -8, KC, Perkins (Delevski) (RSG) 1:46. 9, Blast, Celenza(Bascome) (PPG) 7:31. 10, Blast, Kelly (Celenza) (PPG) 10:54. 11, KC, Beasley13:05. Penalties- Gilbert, Blast(Tripping), 1:59. Barton, KC (Tripping), 6:20. I. Kante, KC (Tripping), 8:55. Fourth quarter - 12, Blast, Walker (Tschantret) 0:31. 13, Blast, Farias 2:24. 14, KC, Andonovski (Beasley) (PPG) 4:15. 15, Blast, Farias (Celenza) 6:46. Penalties - Hare, Blast(Holding), 4:10. Barton, KC (Tripping), 8:01 Delevski, KC (Unsportsmanlike Conduct), 9:34. Gilbert, Blast (UnsportsmanlikeConduct), 9:34. Sanaldo, KC (Intentional handball (GK)), 10:26. Shots on Goal - Kansas City 7-5-8-6 -26; Blast 4-6-8-13 - 31. Penalty kick conversions - Kansas City 0-0; Blast 0-0. Power-play conversions - Kansas City 1-2: Blast 2-5. Goalkeepers - Kansas City, Sanaldo (11, 4, 7, 56:26), Andonovski (2, 2, 0, 3:34). Blast , Rowland (18, 10, 8, 59:00), Kelly (0, 0, 0, 1:00). A - 7,312.

Blast tonight

Matchup: Cleveland Force (9-12) vs. Blast (11-14) Site: 1st Mariner Arena

Time: 7:35

Radio: WCBM (680 AM)

Outlook: The Blast needs a victory to stay ahead of Cleveland in the tightly bunched MISL standings. All seven teams are in the running for the four playoff spots. Dino Delevski leads the Force in scoring (21 goals, 13 assists).

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