Struggling Blast loses 3rd in row

Team gets plenty of scoring chances, can't finish in loss

Storm 12 Blast 4

Pro soccer

March 24, 2007|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun reporter

Nothing is coming easy to the Blast in its quest for a Major Indoor Soccer League playoff berth.

Apparently headed toward a postseason spot after an eight-game winning streak, the quest remains in doubt after the team dropped its third straight start, 12-4, to the Chicago Storm last night at 1st Mariner Arena.

A sputtering offense continued to be a drawback for the Blast, which hasn't scored in double figures since beating the California Cougars here on March 3.

Despite numerous opportunities, the Blast (15-12) was shut out for more than 2 1/2 quarters by the Storm (14-12), which won its fourth in a row. Chicago held on to fourth place by a game over the arch-rival Milwaukee Wave, its opponent this afternoon.

"We cost ourselves [the clinching of] a playoff spot," coach Danny Kelly said. "We just didn't get it done. We cannot lose the rest and expect to get in. We have to win at least one and probably two."

The Blast took a 4-0 lead on two goals by Denison Cabral, who moved to within two points of team leader Machel Millwood with 61. After that, it was a game of discouraging misses.

"It's frustrating right now," Kelly said. "I'd be concerned if we weren't creating opportunities, but we can't finish. We just didn't hit the target."

The Storm, which has the second-best road record in the league (8-6), got going on a split of the defense by Mariano Bollella 25 seconds after the Blast's final goal.

Then, two freakish scores by the Storm reversed the momentum entering halftime.

Rookie Stephen Armstrong, the leading Storm scorer, took a pass from Fabinho and hit one through the legs of defender Lee Tschantret to tie the game. Bollella cashed in again when a defender fell down and gave Chicago a 6-4 cushion.

"The first 30 minutes we played fairly well," Kelly said. "Even when it was 8-4 we had a chance. But we gave up some soft goals tonight and you can't do that in a playoff situation. Every game now is a big one."

Chicago went on to put it away when the Blast could not convert two power-play chances, winning for the second time in their five meetings.

The Blast finished with a 28-19 advantage in shots, taking 13 in the third quarter without scoring. Storm goalkeepers Jeff Richey and Jim Larkin combined for 15 saves and Richey picked up two assists, one after Baltimore went to a sixth attacker.

kent.baker@baltsun.com

Chicago 0 6 0 6 - 12

Blast 2 2 0 0 - 4

First quarter: 1. Blast, Cabral (Walker), 8:15. Penalties: None. Second quarter: 2. Blast, Cabral (Wakefield), 8:28; 3. Chicago, Bollellla (unassisted), 8:53; 4. Chicago, Armstrong (Fabinho), 13:19; 5. Chicago, Bollella (Richey), 13:32. Penalty: C, Soderman, 7:34. Third quarter: Penalties: C, Richey, 1:30; C, Ball, 2:14; B, Steele, 5:44; C, Ughy, 14:36. Fourth quarter: 6. Chicago, Morad (unassisted), 4:13; 7. Chicago, Ughy (Kletzien), 7:52; 8. Chicago, Rosenband (Richey), 13.56. Penalty: B, Tschantret, 0:36. Attendance: 6,443.

Today's game

Matchup -- Blast (15-12) @ Philadelphia KiXX (15-11)

Site -- Wachovia Spectrum, Philadelphia

Time -- 5:05 p.m.

TV/Radio -- VS./680 AM

Series record -- Blast leads 3-1

Outlook -- Two teams battling for playoff position need to win to have a shot at finishing on top, as first-place Detroit plays last-place California this weekend. The Blast has won the past three meetings after getting blown out, 16-8, at Philadelphia on Jan. 14. This could be a postseason semifinals matchup. Player-coach Don D'Ambra continues to lead the KiXX with 69 points.

KENT BAKER

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