Crunch beats Blast, 9-8, in OT Baltimore gives up 2-goal lead in 4th

The incredible string of one-goal losses continued for th Baltimore Blast last night when the Blast blew a two-goal lead in the final minute of regulation and lost to the Cleveland Crunch, 9-8, in overtime.

Cleveland handed Baltimore its sixth straight one-goal setback when Gregg Willin nudged a shot past Scott Manning into the net 6 minutes, 47 seconds into sudden-death overtime.


Willin took a pass from George Fernandez on the left side of the net and Manning came out to challenge Willin, and just as Manning arrived near the ball Willin pushed it past Manning for the winning score.

It was the 12th loss in the last 13 games for Baltimore and dropped its record to 8-19 in one-goal games.


Also, the setback reduced Baltimore's lead to one game over the Wichita Wings in the battle for the final playoff spot in the Major Soccer League Eastern Division standings.

There are two games left for the Blast (20-30) and the Wings (19-31).

The Blast's difficulties in one-goal games continued before 9,849, the largest crowd of the season.

The fans were on their feet in the fourth quarter when the Blast surged ahead, 8-6, and some of the Blast players seemed to sense an end to their misery.

But Cleveland struck back, and it was the same old story even though injured midfielder Tim Wittman had returned after missing 10 games following arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

Wittman appeared to give the Blast an emotional lift with his surprising return. He played often in the first half but very little in the second half when it was obvious his left knee wouldn't allow him to play at full speed.

Wittman had said two days earlier that he wouldn't play last night but he decided to give it a try after trainer Marty McGinty told him to loosen up before the game and see "how it feels."

Hector Marinaro sent the game into overtime for Cleveland with a head shot into the net among a crowd of players in front of the goal with 20 seconds left in regulation.


Marinaro's goal came just 39 seconds after Andy Schmetzer scored for Cleveland to reduce the Blast lead to 8-7.

Rookie Dominic Feltham had given Baltimore an 8-6 lead with 5:46 left when he scored from the middle of the penalty box.

Zoran Karic (two goals, three assists) led the Crunch and Feltham led Baltimore with two goals.

Mark Mettrick and Domenic Mobilio each had one goal and two assists for the Blast.