Aristodemo's goal in OT lifts Blast

Blast 10 KiXX 8

Pro soccer

March 03, 2007|By Todd Karpovich | Todd Karpovich,Special to The Sun

While the Blast has been one of the hottest teams heading into the stretch run of the MISL's regular season, it has lost some of its offensive players to injuries over the past few weeks and prompted coach Danny Kelly to juggle his lineup to find the best mix.

Last night, midfielder Robbie Aristodemo was the hero when his shot from the top of the box 2:41 into overtime gave the Blast a 10-8 victory over Philadelphia in front of 7,446 at 1st Mariner Arena. P.J. Wakefield had two goals and two assists for the Blast, which is tied for second with the KiXX, a half-game behind the Detroit Ignition.

The Blast's winning streak is six games and the team is back in action tonight against the visiting California Cougars.

"The ball sprung loose after a bit of a scramble, and I just hit it," said Aristodemo, who has nine goals on the season. "We don't lose our focus and we don't keep our heads down. We had a little bit of a losing streak in the beginning of the season, and now we are on a winning streak, so we just have to keep going."

The Blast had a chance to win the game one minute into the overtime when it was awarded a shootout after Matt Watson was tripped by KiXX goalie Peter Pappas breaking toward the goal. However, Denison Cabral's ensuing shot sailed over the goal.

The Blast had lost forward Adauto Neto (shin), the MISL's Most Valuable Player in 2006, and five-time All-Star midfielder David Bascome (knee) for the season. Last night, it played without another of its best forwards, Giuliano Celenza, who is out for at least two weeks with a leg injury.

Towson University alumnus Machel Millwood, the Blast's leading scorer, is nursing a hamstring injury, but he still caused problems for the Philadelphia defense, narrowly missing several chances last night.

The Blast is fifth in the six-team league in points. but is the top defensive team in the league, giving up 223 points, and goalie Sagu leads the MISL in save percentage (.752) and points-against average (9.94).

"We have juggled [the lineup] a bit and some rookies have gotten some playing time that they might not have gotten had it not been for the injuries," Kelly said. "The team has really stuck together. Early on, we were finding ways to lose, but we started finding ways to win. We are on a bit of a roll right now. We need to commit to play defense and go from there."

The KiXX attacked the Blast throughout the first half, putting together several effective counterattacks to open an 8-4 lead at halftime. Tony Donatelli was especially troublesome for the Blast, scoring both of his goals in the first half.

Goals by Wakefield and Tarik Walker kept Baltimore in the game. The Blast began to find some rhythm with its offense early in the third quarter and cut the lead to 8-6 when Cabral took a pass from Lee Tschantret, rolled the ball under his foot and fired the ball into the upper corner of the goal.

Philadelphia then began to lose some of its composure as Pappas received a five-minute penalty for misconduct. Wakefield fired a low shot past Casey Barton, who substituted for Pappas, to tie the game at eight with five minutes left in the third quarter.

The Blast has not lost since Jan. 27 when it fell at Detroit, 10-6.

Philadelphia 2 6 0 0 0 - 8

Blast 2 2 4 0 2 - 10

First quarter: 1. Philadelphia, Donatelli (Boney), 4:40. 2. Blast Wakefield (Cabral), 11:30. Penalty: Philadelphia Martinez, 5:30. Second quarter: 3. Philadelphia Martinez (Boney), 1:35. 4. Philadelphia Donatelli (Morris) 5:29. 5. Philadelphia Morris. 10:57. 6. Blast: Walker (Wakefield) 13:44. Penalties: None. Third quarter: 7. Blast: Cabral (Tschantret ), 7:46. 8. Blast: Wakefield (Garcia) 9:45. Penalties: Philadelphia, Castellanos 6:38. Philadelphia, Pappas 7:46. Fourth quarter: No scoring. Penalties: Philadelphia: Martinez, 0:00. Philadelphia Naumoski, 5:24. Overtime: Blast: Aristodemo (Wakefield) 2:21. Penalty: Philadelphia Pappas, 1:15. Att: 7,446.

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