Blast handles Cougars

Cabral, Wakefield, Celenza, Neto each score 2 in victory

Blast 10 Cougars 6

Pro Soccer


STOCKTON, Calif. -- The Blast ruined the party.

The California Cougars finally played their first home match of their first season, but the visitors were the only ones who had fun. The Blast was quicker and better than the Cougars all over the field and handled them, 10-6, in front of 3,711 at Stockton Arena.

The Blast (4-3) had four players score two goals apiece. Denison Cabral scored his two in a slow-paced first half, and P.J. Wakefield scored his two in the second half. The Blast also got offense from its two most prolific scorers as Giuliano Celenza scored his ninth and 10th goals of the season, and the Blast's leading scorer Adauto Neto scored twice.

Blast players were quicker to the ball all night, cutting off the Cougars' scoring chances and getting plenty of good looks themselves. The Blast controlled the entire game, and the outcome was never in doubt.

The crowd was subdued for large portions of the night, but it did get excited for a high-scoring fourth quarter. There were seven goals scored, with the Blast getting four.

The Blast put on a clinic on how to use the boards on offense, routinely passing off them to set up shots. The Cougars used a traditional passing scheme and didn't get as many quality scoring chances. California forward Antonio Sutton said stopping the Blast's passing scheme can be a difficult task.

"The ball comes off the board and is unpredictable," Sutton said. "It creates a lot of chaos and a lot of havoc in front of goals. It's hard for defenders and a keeper to react to it. Established teams use that to their advantage."

The Cougars were also stifled by outstanding play in the net by Blast goalkeeper Sanaldo. The Brazilian made acrobatic stops all match.

"He was the difference," California captain Ronnie Ekelund said. "He seemed to keep them a little bit ahead all night."

California coach Troy Dayak said he thought his team played much better than in its season-opening 9-4 defeat at 1st Mariner Arena on Nov. 11.

"We actually outplayed and [out-pressured] them," Dayak said. "[The breaks] didn't fall our way."

A slow first quarter gave way to a furious second. Cabral scored his second goal early in the quarter to expand the Blast's lead to 3-0. The teams then combined for four goals in 1:46 of play.

Ato Leone scored California's first goal in its new arena at the 7:59 mark of the second, but Celenza quickly answered 1:09 later. Ekelund scored the Cougars' second goal and brought them to within 4-2, which was the closest California (0-8) would get the rest of the night. The scoring binge was ended when Neto put in a shot off his heel.

Blast 2 3 1 4 - 10

California 0 2 1 3 - 6

First quarter: 1. Blast, Steele, 10:45; 2. Blast, Cabral (Aristodemo), 4:50. Second quarter: 3. Blast, Cabral, 12:11; 4. California, Leone (Lilavois), 7:59; 5. Blast, Celenza (Kelly), 6:50; 6. Ekelund (Ricardinho), 6:34; 7. Blast, Neto, 6:09. Third quarter: 8. Blast, Wakefield, 9:56; 9. California, Gilbert (Ricardino), 9:34. Fourth quarter: 10. Blast, Wakefield, 14:29; 11. California, Tovar, 11:29; 12. Blast, Neto (Garcia), 11:15; 13. California, Susi (Sutton), 9:55; 14. Blast, Celenza, 7:35; 15. California, Figueroa, 6:43; 16. Blast, Garcia, 1:31. Penalty kick conversions: Blast 0-0, California 0-0. Shootout conversions: Blast 0-0, California 0-0. Power-play conversions: Blast 0-5, California 0-4. Saves: Blast, Sanaldo 6, Sagu 0. California, Jakubek 0, Larkin 9, Ricardinho.

KiXX@Blast Dec. 30, 7:35 p.m. Radio: 680 AM

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