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Manning, Byrne pace Wings by old buddies


WICHITA, Kan. -- Blast players, present and past, had a reunion of sorts in Wichita yesterday, but the result was all too familiar.

With former Blast players Scott Manning and David Byrne leading the way, the Wings wiped out a 4-2 Blast lead and won, 5-4, in double overtime. The victory ended Wichita's six-game losing streak.

Inefficient second-half play has plagued the Blast all season and yesterday was no exception.

"It all comes down to when the game's on the line, the players have to come through," said Blast coach Kenny Cooper. "The game was on the line, and [the Wings'] Chico [Borja] came through."

But, oh, did Baltimore fail to come through.

The Blast had four straight restarts in the Wings' end early in the first overtime and failed to score. Kevin Sloan had a breakaway a minute into the second overtime, but his shot hit the far post and bounced back into Manning's arms. Borja scored on a 35-footer 30 seconds later.

It capped a frustrating game for the Blast, which fell out of a tie with the Wings to 13-15. Wichita is 14-14, alone in third place in the Major Soccer League.

Baltimore was given five penalties, allowing Wichita four power plays. The fact that Wichita did not receive a foul until 30 seconds remained did not go unnoticed by the Blast.

"The wrong call here and there and then the post [by Sloan] and Scotty might make a great save; it all adds up," said Blast defender Rusty Troy, who was given a four-minute misconduct penalty in the first overtime.

He argued with referee Herb Silva when Doug Neely was given two minutes for boarding Wichita's Dan Donigan. But the Blast killed the penalty, one of three Wichita power plays killed. Baltimore failed on its only man-advantage opportunity.

Troy had three assists, the last on a restart pass to Mark Mettrick for the 4-2 lead with 5:25 to play in the third period. But Byrne set up two more goals to send it into overtime.

Byrne mis-hit Borja's pass in front of the goal, but Borja followed to make it 4-3 with 5:10 left in regulation. Byrne, the Wings' sixth attacker, then split the defense and Donigan followed Byrne's shot off the far post to tie the game with 2:08 remaining.

With 4:20 to play, Domenic Mobilio hit Joe Koziol in front of the net, but Koziol's goal was disallowed. Mobilio was fouled by Byrne on the boards just before his pass. The goal would have made it 5-3.

Manning, signed by the Wings Feb. 14 to replace injured keeper Kris Peat, made five saves in the two overtime periods to preserve the victory. A four-time All-Star, Manning played the last nine seasons for the Blast and was the championship series MVP in 1984, but was unsigned at the start of this season.

After Sloan's miss, Manning went over and kissed the post Sloan hit. He had taken the loss in the last three of Wichita's six losses before yesterday.

"If we can play [defense] like Baltimore, then we have the capability to keep winning here," said Manning, who finished with 15 saves.

During the losing streak, four of five Wichita All-Stars were injured at one time or another, including Borja. But he had two goals and two assists to spark the Wings.

"We've got to go play out there very smart," Manning said. "It doesn't matter what I did, Wichita won the game and that's what matters."

In the last four road games, all losses for Baltimore, the Blast has scored three, three, two and now four goals. They have been outscored 57-42 in the fourth period.

"Give them credit, they didn't give up," Neely said of the Wings. "But they have four power plays and we have one? I don't know how that happened."

Troy, however, blamed the defense.

"We're up 4-2 because of good team defense and if we keep playing good defense, there's no reason we're not up 5- or 6-2," he said. "Our defense let down, especially at the end of the third and the fourth period."

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