Blast's season ends with 10-8 OT loss to La RaZa

Rally from 4-point deficit in final minutes not enough

March 30, 2010|By By Glenn Graham

The Blast's 2010 season ended in stunning and abrupt fashion Monday 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 Baltimore's topsy-turvy year.

After the Blast rallied from a late four-point deficit in the final four minutes of regulation - veteran Giuliano Celenza tying the score 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 1st Mariner Arena stunned.

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

"Losing is never fun," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "It was a game I thought we could win. ... It's disappointing. I know they gave everything they had, and when you don't get the result it's extremely disappointing. I thought it was a game we could have won - we had opportunities, but it wasn't in the cards for us tonight."

When Monterrey's Alejandro Morales scored his second goal of the game, giving 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 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.

"We got ourselves back in position to get a result," Kelly said. "We knew it was going to be tough, but we had some chances - a ball off the post across the goal. ... It's difficult to lose - especially a game of this magnitude, at home against Monterrey - we generally don't like [it]. It hurts, and I think it's going to hurt for a while."

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 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.

"I think tonight, it just wasn't meant to be," Lookingland said. "Looking up at the scoreboard at the end, I think we outshot them [37-16], and probably a minute or so before they won, we square one off the post and it went right past the goal. I think the whole series was back and forth, and that's what it's all about - two good team battling. Tonight, we knew we were never out of the game. ... We came back and scored and I think our confidence was high, but a couple unlucky bounces in overtime. That's the way soccer works sometimes."

M 0 4 2 2 2 -10B 0 2 2 4 0 - 8FIRST QUARTER

Scoring: None.

Penalties: Blast, bench (too many men), 8:04.

SECOND QUARTER

Scoring: 1. Blast, Millwood, 2 pt. (Gonzaga), :13; 2. Monterrey, Morales, 2 pt., (Vallejo), 6:22; 3. Monterrey, Alvarez, 2 pt., 10:28.

Penalties: None.

THIRD QUARTER

Scoring: 4. Blast, Millwood, 2 pt., (Aristodemo), :54; 5. Monterrey, Farias, 2 pt. (Kante), 4:33.

Penalties: None.

FOURTH QUARTER

Scoring: 6. Monterrey, Morales, 2 pt. (Martinez), 10:45; 7. Blast, Ferdinand, 2 pt. (Healey), 11:37; 8. Blast, Celenza, 2 pt., 14:30

Penalties: Blast, Nelson (pushing), 5:46; Monterrey, Morales, (pushing). 5:46; Blast, Millwood, (elbowing), 7:48.

OVERTIME

Scoring: 9. Monterrey, Quiroz, 2 pt. (Farias), 5:13.

Penalties: None

Shots on goal: Monterrey 4-2-6-3-1 -- 16; Blast 7-11-6-11-2 -- 37.

Power-play opportunities: Monterrey 0-for-2; Blast 0-for-0.

Goalie saves: Monterrey, Bontti 4-4-3-5-2-18 ; Blast, Sagu 3-0-3-0-0- 6.

Attendance: 5,138.

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