Comets send Blast reeling with 7-6 defeat Cooper infuriated over Manning hit


Jan Goossens and the Kansas City Comets sent the Baltimore Blast limping into the five-day Major Soccer League All-Star break yesterday.

Goossens scored three goals at the Baltimore Arena to lead the Comets to a 7-6 victory over a Blast team that appears to be physically and mentally drained.

It was the fifth hat trick of the season for Goossens, a forward, who continues to play well with midfielder Carl Valentine, who was acquired by the Comets from Baltimore last summer. Goossens (43 goals, 38 assists) also had an assist yesterday and is the third in the MSL in scoring.

Valentine contributed a goal yesterday for the Comets.

Goossens also was in the middle of a controversy in the second quarter after he collided with Blast goalkeeper Scott Manning on the boards.

Manning went down on his bad right knee and had to be administered to by trainer Marty McGinty.

Blast coach Kenny Cooper took exception to Goossens' hit on Manning and twice had to be restrained from going after him on the field.

Kansas City goalkeeper Jim Gorsek restrained Cooper the first time, and Gorsek and Blast forward Domenic Mobilio halted Cooper the second time.

"Scott's been hit too many times this season, and I'm tired of it," Cooper said. "Goossens was wrong for going into Scott like that, and I had a few words with him. But it's over now."

Goossens said he "barely touched Manning. I don't have a reputation for taking cheap shots at people."

Manning called it a "significant" collision and said: "My knee buckled. I don't want to say it was intentional because I don't know."

Cooper was given a yellow-card warning for his actions.

The second-place Blast (17-18) lost its third straight game for the first time this season and dropped below .500 for the first time since Nov. 17 (4-5). The Blast also fell 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Comets (20-14) in the Eastern Division standings with 17 games remaining in the regular season.

Unlike earlier games this season at the Arena, there wasn't much fire in the Blast in the late stages.

In the final six minutes, 14 seconds, Baltimore faced a 7-5 deficit and Billy Ronson entered the game as a sixth attacker. But Ronson didn't raise his arms to get the crowd into the game as he usually does.

The Comets built a defensive wall in front of the goal to frustrate the Blast.

"You do it [raise arms to pump up the crowd] so many times that you're afraid sometimes to keep going to the well," Ronson said. "Sometimes, you just come up empty.

But the Blast did manage to get one goal with the sixth attacker, when Tim Wittman bumped in a head shot by Mark Mettrick with 2:39 left in the game to reduce the Comets' lead to 7-6.

Mettrick's header seemed to be going wide when Wittman knocked it into the net. It was third goal of the day for Wittman, who has 15 goals and 10 assists in his last 11 games.

Wittman's hat trick was his fourth of the season. Wittman now has scored in a team-high 11 straight games.

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