Sockers go 4-0 at Arena with 9-8 win over Blast Baltimore's defense breaks down again


Dale Mitchell faked right and went left for a blue-ribbon goal, Chris Reif fulfilled a dream by scoring his first goal at the Baltimore Arena and Chris Simon gave an encore performance of the popular "Simon shuffle."

But the result was the same old story for the Baltimore Blasagainst the San Diego Sockers yesterday at the Baltimore Arena.

There was a lot of offensive brilliance (rookie Dominic Felthascored his first goal in the Major Soccer League) but far too many defensive breakdowns for Baltimore.

The price for those lapses was a 9-8 loss to the Sockers, whcompleted a four-game sweep this season at the Arena.

San Diego has won five straight overall in Baltimore, a feat thaonce was considered unthinkable.

But the Sockers have become fond of the Arena and come herbrimming with confidence every time.

The Sockers also have come to Baltimore on a mission thretimes this season after losing the night before, 11-6, to the Cleveland Crunch in Richfield, Ohio.

"We lose to Cleveland and then come here ticked off," said SaDiego midfielder Paul Dougherty, who scored one goal and had two assists yesterday.

Nearly everybody got into the offensive fun for San Diego (29-16against the fast-fading Blast (20-25).

Branko Segota had two goals and two assists, and Brian Quinhad four assists.

Segota and company, after taking 6-3 halftime lead, answerequickly nearly every time the Blast scored in the second half.

Most of those goals came on defensive mistakes that left coacKenny Cooper shaking his head.

"It was there for everybody to see," said Cooper of the Blasdefense. "You just can't make the these kind of defensive mistakes against San Diego and get away with it. It's obvious we lack concentration. Jimmy [assistant coach Pollihan] and I warn the players every time to be awake on the kickoff after we score, but we keep getting beat."

Those quick goals by opponents after Blast scores have been key factor in Baltimore's current 1-7 stretch.

Three of those setbacks have come at the Arena, and the fanare getting restless.

There were more boos yesterday in the first half before Mitcheland the Blast turned up the intensity in the second half.

But Mitchell (two goals, one assist) said: "We have to play thaway the whole game. There's no reason why we can't do it."

Blast midfielder David Vaudreuil said of the team's woes: "It thinit's team defense. Collectively, we break down at the wrong times. It's not a sign of a championship team."

San Diego coach Ron Newman said he can understand thfrustration Cooper is going through.

"No matter which way he turns, things go wrong," said Newman"That's the way it was for us during the regular season last year. Kenny's always been successful and doesn't know how to handle it."

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