Blast changes script against KiXX, pulls out improbable 5-4 victory

Two goals in 37 seconds set stage for winner from Walker with 23.1 left

Pro Soccer

March 02, 2005|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

When it was over, Blast midfielder Allen Eller didn't remember thinking specifically about what was happening. But in his subconscious he knew if he didn't win the 50-50 ball along the boards near the midfield line, the momentum would change.

"I knew if I lost the ball, they'd have the numbers advantage," Eller said. "And I could hear Giuls [Giuliano Celenza] screaming for the ball. All I was trying to do was get the ball to him."

The Blast, which would win, 5-4, had just scored twice in 37 seconds to tie the Philadelphia KiXX and, when Eller won the ball and lofted it to Celenza for a pass to Tarik Walker and the winning goal with 23.1 seconds left, it completed an amazing comeback.

"It took character to come back and come through the way we did at the end," said Blast coach Tim Wittman, whose team had played in Chicago just two days earlier. "I'll take it."

The win was the second in a row for the Blast and improved its record to 13-15. The team is now a half game behind the Chicago Storm and Cleveland Force in the chase for fourth place, the final qualifying spot for postseason play, in the Major Indoor Soccer League standings.

Philadelphia (17-13) dropped 1 1/2 games behind Milwaukee in its battle for the No. 1 spot.

"We don't know if two wins in a row means we're on our way," said Celenza, who tied the game with a picture-perfect midair strike of a ball delivered exquisitely by Chile Farias. "But we hope we are."

Up until two minutes were left in the game, the Blast had played against the KiXX the way it has played every game this season against Philadelphia: Take the early lead and then largely disappear. That operating procedure had produced a 4-1 record against the KiXX.

Last night, after taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Farias and Lee Tschantret, the Blast sagged.

Philadelphia player coach Don D'Ambra (goal and assist), Pat Morris (power-play goal), Jeff Moore and Drew Kopp all found the net for a 4-2 lead before the Blast regrouped.

"They've got dangerous shooters," said D'Ambra. "But we can't keep giving games like this away or we'll find ourselves battling for that fourth playoff spot, too."

The corner kick by Tschantret to David Bascome for a sixth-attacker goal gave the Blast hope at the two-minute mark. And then Farias found Celenza in midair for a highlight-film play 37 seconds later and another sixth-attacker score that tied the game.

During the Blast's last home weekend here at 1st Mariner Arena, it drew back-to-back crowds of more than 7,000, But last night, playing a rare week-night game, it drew just 2,711.

"It's the lowest-grossing night we've had in three years," said Blast owner Ed Hale, whose team depends heavily on families and youth groups, but was forced to play on a school night because the circus is coming to town for two weeks and there were no other weekend dates available to enable the team to complete its 20-date home schedule within the regular season.

Philadelphia 0 3 0 1 - 4

Blast 2 0 0 3 - 5

First quarter - 1, Blast, Farias (Regis) 2:48. 2, Blast, Tschantret (Celenza) 11:18. Penalties -Chantel, Blast (Delay of game) 3:21; Pappas, Phil. (Intentional handball, GK) 9:14. Second quarter - 3, Phil., D'Ambra (Vasic) 3:47; 4, Phil., Morris (Sloan) 7:37; 5, Phil., Moore (Aldrich) 13:38. Penalties - Hare, Blast (Tripping) 6:57. Third quarter - None. Penalties - Brooks, Phil. (Boarding) 14:07. Fourth quarter - 6, Phil., Kopp (D'Ambra) 2:10. 7, Blast Bascome (Tschantret) 13:00. 8, Blast Celenza (Farias) 13:37. 9, Blast, Walker (Celenza) 14:37. Penalties - None. Shots on goal - Philadelphia 5-7-5-7- 24; Blast 7-1-7-14 - 29. Power-play conversions - Philadelphia 1-1, Blast 0-0. Goalies - Philadelphia, Pappas (16-12-4 57.31), Dobson (2-1-1- 2:04), D'Ambra (0-0-0 0:02), Morris (0-0-0 0:23). Blast, Rowland (14-10-4 58:18), Kelly (0-0-0 1:42). A - 2,711.

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