Cabral's home away from home

April 27, 2008|By Jack McCarthy | Jack McCarthy,Special to The Sun

MILWAUKEE -- Whenever Blast forward Denison Cabral makes a big play at home, he likes to share the joy with fans by running up to the glass at 1st Mariner Arena.

Last night, he made U.S. Cellular Arena seem like a home away from home.

"When I came here to play in Milwaukee, I wanted to feel like it was at home," Cabral said. "I promised myself that I was going to go up [and jump] on that glass, and I did."

The 34-year-old veteran collected a hat trick last night as the Blast claimed its fourth Major Indoor Soccer League championship in the past six seasons, beating Monterrey La Raza, 14-11.

After scoring his third goal midway through the third quarter, Cabral leaped up and climbed atop the protective glass lining the indoor field, raised his arm in triumph and kissed the Blast logo on his red uniform.

Cabral has played his entire MISL career - 11 seasons - in Baltimore and is the team's all-time regular-season (873 points) and postseason scoring leader (78).

"Four championship trophies in six years," Cabral said. "It's this organization, the players, our staff, our fans, everybody. This is not just the players on the field. This is a championship that we all won together. We're bigger than six guys on the field."

The championship victory in Milwaukee was the second in Blast history. The Blast beat the host Milwaukee Wave in the finale of a three-game series at the Bradley Center in 2003.

Celenza stars, too

Baltimore native Guiliano Celenza had one goal and an assist that deserved a spot on a highlight tape.

The Blast forward set up his team's third goal in the second quarter when he skipped a perfect pass to teammate Carlos Garcia, who was positioned at the left of the Monterrey goal for an uncontested score. La Raza goalkeeper Jose Bontti seemed preoccupied with the approaching Celenza, leaving a wide opening for Garcia to pop in a shot that tied the game at 6.

"I was on the ball and was able to tip the ball along to the far post, and [Garcia] was able to tap it in," Celenza said.

Sterling Sagu

He has the league's top defense playing in front of him, but veteran Blast goalie Sagu also more than holds up his end. Sagu had 14 saves and gave up fewer than nine points per game in the playoffs.

"Sagu played really good in goal," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "And in the second half, we got back to what made us a success, playing good solid team defense and playing for each other."

Sagu surrendered a late three-point goal to La Raza when the game was out of reach.

Crowd favorites

Despite having no hometown favorite in the game, an announced 4,327 fans still showed up at U.S. Celllular Arena. There was even a smattering of vocal Blast fans who made the 800-mile trek from Baltimore.

La Raza seemed to have a slight edge in fan affection in the early going, perhaps because of the Blast's 14-13 semifinal victory over the Wave last Sunday. But as the Blast built its second-half lead, cheers for the visitors from Baltimore grew progressively louder.

A gem of a defender

Monterrey's Genoni Martinez was named the league's top defender for the fifth time in six years this week.

Past champions

Major Indoor Soccer League championship game results from the past six seasons:

Season Champion Runner-up Series

2002-03 Blast Milwaukee 2-1

2003-04 Blast Milwaukee 3-0

2004-05 Milwaukee Cleveland 2-0

2005-06 Blast St. Louis 2-1

2006-07 Philadelphia Detroit 1-0

2007-08 Blast Monterrey 1-0

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