Blast good as gold to capture MISL title

Millwood score 6:33 into OT wins 3rd crown in 4 years


St. Louis -- There are those in Major Indoor Soccer League circles who don't favor the "golden goal" format that the league adopted recently.

Two teams split a two-game series with each winning a home game. The winner is decided in a "golden goal" game, a 15-minute, sudden-death contest. If no goal is scored in the first 15-minute period, another is played until somebody scores.

Don't count the Blast in the group of dissenters. The Blast dropped Game 2 of the MISL championship series, 4-1, to the St. Louis Steamers at Savvis Center yesterday to even the series at 1-1.

No problem for the Blast, since it defeated the defending champion Milwaukee Wave last month in the new format.

Blast forward Machel Millwood picked up a ball off the boards, just inside the arc in front of Steamers goalie Brett Phillips, and scored into the upper right corner at 6:33 to give the Blast the championship.

The title is the third for the Blast in the past four years, ending a Blast season that included a poor start, injuries to key players and coach Tim Wittman's season-ending suspension after a post-game incident and replacement by defender Danny Kelly on March 20.

"It shows the leadership of this team," said Blast forward Lee Tschantret. "It shows we had a lot of guys who have been through a lot of things. We lead each other. Nothing got us down. Danny did a great job. It was unfortunate what happened to Timmy. Danny really shored up our defense, and it showed this weekend. It's just unbelievable. I don't know what to say."

Kelly said the Blast seemed to rally and get stronger as a team as it solved problems that came up during the season.

"It's about sticking together as a squad," Kelly said. "On the field, off the field, just being there for your teammates. We went through some hard times this year, but in the end, it's about playing hard for each other, shift in and shift out and sacrificing for each other."

Then Blast goalie Sagu pulled a calf muscle in the Milwaukee series and backup Sanaldo was thrown into action. He frustrated the Steamers in Game 1 on Friday night in Baltimore, and he was fantastic from the start yesterday.

"We would not be here without him," Tschantret said. "The forwards always get the glory, but without Sanaldo and Sagu in the first series against Milwaukee, we don't get anywhere without them."

The Steamers came out strong and had most of the play in the first half. Sanaldo was rock solid the entire game.

Jeff DiMaria scored a pretty goal at 6:37 off a nice feed from Chile Farias for a 1-0 lead. Joe Reiniger hit a rocket that Sanaldo punched wide and Jamar Beasley was foiled by the Blast goalie inside the box.

Steamers forward Shaun David, who buzzed Blast defenders all game with his speed and skill, made it 2-0 in the third with a shot off Sanaldo that bounced into the goal. Sanaldo pulled down Farias and a shootout was awarded and Beasley scored at 6:21 for a 3-0 lead in the third.

Kelly finally broke Phillips at 13:40 of the third when he scored off the boards and into the upper left corner. Genoni Martinez scored at 14:42 of the third when he beat Sanaldo to the near post.

Baltimore started to click and get its legs in the fourth quarter leading into the "golden goal."

"We didn't play very well, especially in the first 30 minutes," Kelly said. "St. Louis really took it to us. That wasn't completely unexpected. They had to win that to stay alive. Our passing was off, we played poorly. We started doing the little things right, the things that got us here, and we turned it around."

Blast 0 0 1 0 - 1

St. Louis 1 0 3 0 - 4

First quarter: 1. St. Louis, DiMaria (Farias), 6:37.

Second quarter: No scoring. Penalties: Aristodemo (Blast), holding, 2:12; Kirchhoff (St. Louis), holding, 6:10.

Third quarter: 2. St. Louis, David (Phillips), 1:50; 3. St. Louis, Beasley (Martinez) 6:21; 4. Blast, Kelly (Neto) 13:40; 5. St. Louis, Martinez (Bollella) 14:42. Penalties: Sanaldo (Blast), tripping, 6:17; Newsom (St. Louis), holding, 7:43.

Fourth quarter: No scoring. Shots-on-goal: Blast 4-2-11-5-22; St. Louis 11-8-9-3-31. Goalies: Blast, Sanaldo 18, Tschantret 1; St. Louis, Phillips 13. Officials: Kelly Mock, Ted Grigoriou and Tim Tyma. Att: 16,061.

Golden goal game First period: Blast, Millwood (Celenza) 6:33. Penalties: none. Shots on goal: Blast 2; St. Louis 3.

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