Minus veterans, Blast still cruises

pro soccer

blast 20, twisters 9

March 22, 2009|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Special to The Baltimore Sun

It was a night for taking it easy on some of the Blast's most notable veterans.

Missing from the lineup were All-League goalkeeper Sagu, who was celebrating his 36th birthday, and the franchise's all-time leading scorer, Denison Cabral, 35.

But the absences didn't have any effect on the outcome as the Blast closed its regular-season home schedule with a 20-9 victory over the National Indoor Soccer League's worst team, the Massachusetts Twisters.

With first place and the home arena for the league championship game locked up, the Blast had little incentive except pride, and that was plenty against Massachusetts (1-15), which joined the league at the last minute after the Orlando Sharks withdrew with less than a week before the season opener.

Dave Kern went all the way in goal for the Blast, Giuliano Celenza led the scoring with four goals and Rich Lesmes scored his first in a Blast uniform. Robbie Aristodemo had four assists for the Blast, which closes the regular season next Sunday in Monterrey, Mexico.

The Blast (14-3) is guaranteed its highest winning percentage by the current franchise and closed regular-season play at 1st Mariner Arena with an 8-1 record. The team outscored the fledgling Twisters 133-29 in five meetings, all victories.

Coach Danny Kelly said it is "always a battle" to keep the players focused when the regular-season title is already clinched. "They know they're in the championship and that these games don't mean anything. You try to convince them that they do."

"We have to keep our minds in it and not lose our rhythm," Celenza said. "Hopefully, no one gets hurt and we can keep working on what we need to work on."

Massachusetts showed some improvement over the course of the season but has lost 12 in a row and is 0-8 on the road.

"This wasn't our best performance, that's for sure," Kelly added. "But give them some credit. They played hard."

Celenza said "it's been awhile" since he scored four goals in a game. "You gotta come out and get a couple for the fans on their [appreciation] night."

Without Cabral, Celenza and Machel Millwood noticeably stepped up their games on offense and defenseman P.J. Wakefield supplied two goals. "I think we're well balanced," Celenza said. "Obviously, we miss Denison, but we've got a lot of people who can score, including defenders."

BLAST (14-3) @ LA RAZA (9-7)

Next Sunday, 6 p.m.

Radio: 680 AM

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