Blast's season ends with overtime defeat

La RaZa completes two-game sweep in MISL semifinals

March 29, 2010|By Glenn Graham | Baltimore Sun reporter

The Baltimore Blast's 2010 season ended in stunning and abrupt fashion last night against visiting Monterrey, a 10-8 loss in overtime that completed a two-game sweep for La RaZA in the Major Indoor Soccer League semifinals that typified its topsy-turvy campaign.

After the Blast rallied from a late 4-point deficit in the final four minutes of regulation -- veteran Giuliano Celenza tying the game with 30 seconds left -- it was Monterrey's Victor Quiroz who scored off a restart to send La RaZa to Sunday's championship game in Milwaukee.

The Blast, which finished the season with an 11-11 mark counting the two playoff losses, and the announced crowd of 5,138 left stunned.

The Blast, winner of five indoor titles the previous seven years, were 7-0 at home in the playoffs since 2003 and 3-0 against La RaZA at home this season.

When Monterrey's Alejandro Morales scored his second goal of the game, providing the visitors an 8-4 lead with 4:15 left in the fourth quarter, it appeared La RaZa had the series won. But the Blast, which struggled throughout the game to produce goals, found poise in the urgent final minutes.

Max Ferdinand put home a chance in front with 3:23 to play and then, with an extra attacker on, Celenza pounced on a rebound in the middle with 30 seconds left, finding the top right corner to send the game into overtime.

The Blast had plenty of early energy and created a number of quality scoring opportunities in the first half -- owning an 18-6 advantage in shots -- but the home team's inability to finish off chances led to a 4-2 halftime deficit.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Blast took a 2-0 lead 13 seconds into the second quarter when forward Machel Millwood took a short entry pass from Lucio Gonzaga and quickly turned and fired with his left foot.

La RaZA evened the score at 2 midway through the quarter when Morales scored in front and the visitors took a 4-2 lead after Byron Alvarez stole the ball at midfield and made a strong run down the right side before finding the far left post with 4:50 left.

The final 30 seconds of the half summed up the Blast's frustrations when Max Ferdinand, Mike Lookingland and Celenza all had consecutive shots that couldn't find the mark.

The Blast's 20-game regular season was filled with ups and downs -- a 5-2 start followed by a seven-game losing streak that was immediately answered with seven straight wins.

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