Blast's MISL title hopes washed away by Wave, 16-7

March 25, 2011|By Glenn Graham, The Baltimore Sun

The Blast's Major Indoor Soccer League season ended in disappointment at 1st Mariner Arena Friday.

Playing in front of an announced crowd of 10,274 — the biggest home crowd since 2006 — the Blast couldn't find an answer for the Milwaukee Wave, which buckled down on defense and took advantage of limited scoring chances to come away with a stunningly comfortable 16-7 win over the Blast for the MISL championship.

It's the fifth league championship for the second-place Wave, which survived a semifinal-round scare against the Missouri Comets to reach the title game. It's the first time in three tries that the Wave got the better of the Blast in the championship round.

While the Blast's Sagu claimed Goalkeeper of the Year honors and Pat Morris took the Defensive Player of the Year award for their work in the regular season, it was Milwaukee backup goalie Marcel Feenstra and a Wave defense that was without veteran standout Troy Dusosky (undisclosed reasons) that proved to be the difference Friday night.

Feenstra recorded 11 saves to earn Most Valuable Player honors and the Wave blocked 18 more shots in front of him.

The Blast, which captured first place with a 15-5 mark, went 35-plus minutes without a goal, starting when the game was tied at 4 early in the second quarter. When Morris finally ended the drought with 5:59 to play, the damage had been done, with the home team helplessly behind, 14-7.

"We played undisciplined," said Blast coach Danny Kelly. "Things we talked about all season long, things we talked about prior to this game -- we didn't do well at all. For me, it wasn't a lack of effort by any means. I think we got caught up and allowed ourselves to get frustrated. On a night when we needed a really good performance, we didn't get it."

Hometown favorite Giuliano Celenza, who is retiring after 11 seasons and 426 points (fourth on the franchise's all-time list,) didn't want to leave the arena floor after the game. He had little answers for what took place in the hours before.

"I don't know," he said. "We couldn't finish, we got unlucky on some things and Milwaukee played well. We just couldn't finish-- we outshot them and everything like that, but their keeper came up big and we were a little unlucky."

Any early game concerns the home team had about its two-week layoff (it last played March 13 in the regular-season finale) was warranted.

The Blast surrendered a goal in the game's opening minute when defender Jonathan Greenfield was afforded plenty of space with the ball in close, finishing from 8 yards for a 2-0 Wave lead.

After the Blast struggled to finish its chances — it had a 6-4 advantage in shots in the first quarter — the Wave made it 4-0 when Ian Bennett put away a wall pass sent in front by Marco Terminisi with one minute to play in the quarter.

The Blast was able to regroup quickly in the second quarter, getting goals from Lucio Gonzaga and Mike Lookingland two minutes apart to tie the score at 4 with 11:31 to play. But the Wave reclaimed the lead with 7:06 left when Giuliano Oliviero blasted a 3-point shot that deflected off Blast defender Zach Wilkes in front and past Sagu for a 7-4 halftime lead.

NOTES: Since the rivalry began in 1992, Milwaukee has a 45-28 advantage against the Blast during the regular season, but the Blast has had the better of postseason play. Going into Friday's championship game, the Blast had won four of the five series the teams have played, including consecutive championship round wins in the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons. …The Blast honored all-time leading scorer Denison Cabral during halftime. Cabral, who played with the Blast from 1997 until last season and finished with 941 points, received a warm ovation.

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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