The Blast had plenty to celebrate as it opened its Major Indoor Soccer League season Friday night against the Rockford Rampage at 1st Mariner Arena.
The game marked the 30th year of professional indoor soccer in the city, and an energized crowd of an announced 9,614 helped the team enjoy the raising of last season's championship banner. All that remained was bringing home a win, but the Rampage spoiled the party.
Rockford defender Chris Brisson scored 9:47 into overtime as the Rampage was able to outlast the Blast for a 10-8 win in a rematch of last season's championship game.
"It's always disappointing to lose, especially a special night like this, dropping the banner and all that," Blast forward Denison Cabral said. "But I'm going to be honest: I think they came out with more energy than we did in the first half, and that cannot happen - that's not the Blast and how we play."
The home team showed fourth-quarter resilience, twice coming from behind to tie the score. When veteran Giuliano Celenza finished off a ball sent through by Mike Looking- land with 1:23 left in regulation, it appeared as if the home crowd would eventually go home happy.
The Rampage, quicker to the ball and strong on defense for much of the game, didn't allow it. Brisson cut to the middle and pounced on a wall pass sent in from Matthew Stewart to stun the home team.
Cabral scored two goals to lead the Blast, which also got a key fourth-quarter goal from Pat Healey to overcome a 6-4 deficit and 12 saves from Sagu in the net.
The Blast (0-1) will try to rebound next Saturday when the Philadelphia KiXX come to town for a 7:35 p.m. start at 1st Mariner Arena.
Both teams' defenses were a step ahead of the rusty offenses for much of the game, but it didn't start out that way.
Cabral scored just 3:42 into play, a two-pointer from the left side after hard work in front from Rod Dyachenko. But the Rampage, quicker to the ball in the first half, responded with consecutive two-point goals from Bato Radoncic and Stewart to take a 4-2 lead after the first quarter.
Cabral scored his second goal 16 seconds into the second quarter to tie the score at 4, and defense dominated the rest of the first half to send the teams into halftime even.
"To be honest, I just thought we weren't good enough tonight," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "In the first half, we didn't do the little things well enough, we lost runners, our communication wasn't good enough, quick enough. It just wasn't good enough, and I expect more from the guys in the locker room and I think they expect more from themselves. We battled better in the second half. We ... could have won the game, but I don't know if we deserved it."
R 4 0 0 4 2 - 10
B 2 2 0 4 0 - 8
Scoring: 1. Blast, Cabral (Dyachenko), 3:47; 2. Rockford, Radoncic (Lukin), 4:31; 3. Rockford, Stewart, 8:40.
Penalties: 1. Rockford, Brooks (tripping), 10:31.
Scoring: 4. Blast, Cabral (Millwood), :16.
Penalties: 2. Rockford, Degand (multi-fouls), 11:33.
Scoring: 5. Rockford, Brooks (Lukin), 3:21; 6. Blast, Healey (Dyachenko), 5:28; 7. Rockford, Kante, 11:16; 8. Blast, Celenza (Lookingland), 13:42.
Scoring: 9. Rockford, Brisson (Steawart), 9:47.
SAVES: Blast, Sagu 3 4 2 3 0 - 12; Rockford, Waltman 4 2 2 2 2 - 12 .
SHOTS ON GOAL: Blast 7 6 6 4 4 - 27; Rockford 8 4 6 6 2 - 26.
POWER PLAY OPPORTUNITIES: Blast: 0-for-2; Rockford: 0-for-0.
Next Saturday, 7:35 p.m.
Radio: 680 AM