Blast crumbles, finishes in 3rd

Milwaukee gets home-field edge in playoffs

KIXX 8 Blast 2

Pro Soccer


PHILADELPHIA -- On one goal, Blast goalie Sagu tripped and fell going after a loose ball and accidentally left the net wide open. The KiXX got another score using an unusual fake off a restart. Philadelphia even scored on a shot from midfield.

It just was not the Blast's night. The Blast needed to win its regular-season finale to have a shot at second place, but Philadelphia dominated after the opening minutes and rolled to a surprisingly easy 8-2 victory in front of 9,684 at the Wachovia Spectrum last night.

The Blast finished the regular season with a 17-13 record and in third place. This loss also clinched second place for Milwaukee (17-12) and will give the Wave home-field advantage when the teams meet in the first-round playoff series.

The Blast hosts Game 1 of the playoff series on April 22. Game 2 will be on April 23 in Milwaukee, and if the teams split the games, a sudden-death overtime period at the end of Game 2 decides the series. The Blast also heads into the playoffs on a two-game slide and a five-game road losing streak.

This game meant little to Philadelphia (10-19), already eliminated from playoff contention. The Blast appeared poised for a big night when Giuliano Celenza and Carlos Garcia scored 62 seconds apart after steals for a 2-0 lead 3:53 into the game.

"I think we thought that we were going to kill them when we were up 2-0," said Lee Tschantret, whose steal set up the first goal.

But the KiXX and goalie Peter Pappas (10 saves) blanked the Blast after that. Philadelphia turned up its intensity and got the benefit of several good bounces and Blast defensive mistakes.

"We didn't play well all game long," Blast player-interim coach Danny Kelly said. "We just got outworked in pretty much all facets of the game."

Kelly was one of four players the team held out with injuries although everyone should be ready for the Milwaukee series.

Philadelphia's first goal may have been the turning point. Dino Delevski (two goals) fired a 15-foot shot from the left boards that Sagu stopped, but the ball trickled past him to the goal line. The official on the spot ruled it a goal although Sagu and the Blast protested - and that seemed to awaken the KiXX.

That goal came with 3:05 left in the first period, and John Barry Nusum (two goals, one assist) scored twice for a 3-2 halftime lead. Philadelphia made it 4-2 on a restart when one player ran past the ball, and Vlatko Andonovski nearly did before tapping it over to Pat Morris (two goals), who fired a shot into the right corner with 9:19 left in the third quarter.

Delevski and David Castellanos added two more unusual goals for the KiXX. Nusum made a steal and quickly pushed it to Delevski at midfield. He floated a high shot from midfield over Sagu, who was about 10 feet off the line. Castellanos took advantage of Sagu tripping near the boards and tapped the ball into an empty net for the eighth goal.

Sagu (18 saves) kept the Blast close, but the team couldn't overcome its costly miscues.

"We made a lot of mistakes," Sagu said. "Every single goal, I think we made a mistake. We just needed to play better."

Blast 2 0 0 0 - 2

Philadelphia 2 1 3 2 - 8

First quarter: 1. Blast, Celenza (Tschantret), 2:51; 2. Blast, Garcia, 3:53; 3. Phi., Delevski (Nusum), 11:55; 4. Phi. Nusum (Fehre), 14:19. Penalties: None. Second quarter: 5. Phil., Nusum, 1:10, Penalties: None. Third quarter: 6. Phil., Morris (Andonovksi), 5:41 (RSG); 7. Phil., Morris (Kopp), 8:15 (PPG). 8. Phil., Delevski (Nusum), 12:41. Penalties: Bailey, Blast (boarding), 6:36. Fourth quarter: 9. Phil., D'Ambra (Kopp), 3:55 (RSG); 10. Phil., Castellanos (Roberts), 7:06. Penalties: None. Shots on goal: Blast 20, Phi. 26. Penalty kick conversions: Blast. 0 of 0, Phi. 0 of 0. Shootout conversions: Blast 0 of 0, Phi. 0 of 0. Power-play conversions: Blast. 0 of 0, Phi. 1 of 1 Saves: Blast, Sagu 18; Phi., Pappas 10. A: 9.684. Officials: Mark Bailey, Joseph Della Penna, Edward Marco, Michael Laychock.

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