Force breaks through vs. Blast with 2 late goals for 6-4 victory

10-game hex terminated

home team drops into last

Pro Soccer

February 20, 2005|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Cleveland Force often has been the cure for what ails the Blast, which had beaten the Force 10 straight times and came into last night's game trying to break a three-game losing streak.

But the Blast's recent history of strange bounces and missed chances became the story once more. The team lost two key players, blew a pair of two-goal leads and saw Cleveland score twice in the final minute as the Force recorded a 6-4 victory before 7,406 at 1st Mariner Arena.

The loss dropped the Blast into last place.

For much of the game, the Blast (11-14) appeared ready to continue its winning streak against Cleveland (10-12) while ending its recent slide. The home team wasn't rattled by Cleveland's 43-24 edge in shots as its defense blocked 15 shots. Goalies Sagu (18 saves) and Brian Rowland (four saves) each made big stops.

The Blast held leads of 2-0 and 3-1, but failed on a number of good scoring chances. Losing top scorer Chile Farias to a red card for foul language in the third quarter seemed to slow the offense. The Blast had its chances, but couldn't put the ball in net as Cleveland scored five of the final six goals.

"As far as scoring opportunities, we had our fair share," said the Blast's Lee Tschantret. "We're just not getting any bounces or any luck right now, and you've just got to play through."

Another piece of bad luck came when the flu sidelined defender Billy Nelson. He started, but couldn't play after the first several minutes. That, coupled with Farias' ejection, left the Blast playing four players short for much of the night.

"It's hard when you have to play 11 guys versus 15 for [about] three quarters," said the Blast's Tarik Walker.

Danny Kelly (short-handed) and David Bascome scored first-half goals for the Blast, and Giuliano Celenza put one in off a Force defender's foot for a 3-1 lead 58 seconds into the third period. But the Force scored three in a row to take a 4-3 lead. Chris Dore gave Cleveland the edge with 12:34 left.

Marcos Chantel tied it for the Blast with 9:17 left, but Dore broke the 4-4 tie by slamming a shot past Sagu from the right side with 43.3 seconds left. The Blast then pulled Sagu for sixth attacker Kelly, and the Force added an insurance goal when Antonio Sutton scored with 29.2 seconds remaining.

"It was a big win for us," said Force coach Omid Namazi. "We have a lot of first-year players in Cleveland who aren't familiar with the rivalries, but it was good in any way to win a game in Baltimore."

NOTES: Longtime radio broadcaster Art Sinclair returned after missing several weeks following quadruple-bypass heart surgery. ... The Blast inducted coach Tim Wittman, Bruce Savage and former owner Earl Foreman into its Hall of Fame during a halftime ceremony.

Cleveland 0 1 1 4 - 6

Blast 1 1 1 1 - 4

First quarter: 1, Blast, Kelly (SHG RSG) 12:17. Penalties: Hare, Blast (Tripping), 11:50.

Second quarter: 2, Blast, Bascome (Farias) 7:46. 3, Cle, Handsor (Susi) (PPG) 13:07. Penalties: Hare, Blast (Boarding), 11:28. Sagu, Blast (Dissent), 13:07. Selaidopoulos, Cle (Boarding), 14:02.

Third quarter: 4, Blast, Celenza (PPG) 0:58. 5, Cle, Susi (Martinez) 7:31. Penalties: Farias, Blast (Dissent), 7:31. Farias, Blast (Foul Language), 7:31. Sagu, Blast (Intentional Handball (GK)), 10:20. Martinez, Cle (Tripping), 10:56. Timbers, Cle (Tripping), 12:21.

Fourth quarter: 6, Cle., Martinez (RSG) 1:37. 7, Cle., Dore (Larkin) 2:26. 8, Blast, Chantel 5:43. 9, Cle., Dore (Johnson) 14:17. 10, Cle.. Sutton (Ball) (VS6) 14:31. Penalties: none.

Shots on goal: Cleveland 7-18-8-10 - 43, Blast 7-4-3-10 -24. Power-play conversions: Cleveland: 1 of 4, Blast: 1 of 3. Goalkeepers: Cleveland: Jim Larkin (15, 11, 4, 60:00), Blast: Sagu (23, 18, 5, 47:52) Rowland (4, 4, 0, 11:25) Kelly (1, 0, 1, 0:43). A: 7,406.

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