Chances are, after not playing in the NPSL for several years, Billy Ronson thought quite a bit about his return leading into the Blast's game with the visiting Philadelphia Kixx last night.
Only in his wildest dreams would the wee Brit envision himself having such a dynamic start, however. Two shots, two goals in the first 3: 35, that's all. The goals sent the Blast on its way to a 12-5 victory over Philly, the second time the team has beaten the division leaders in as many tries.
The two-pointer was a far cry from Ronson's first goal in the league a dozen years ago. "That one was a scuffle goal," he said. "I shot the ball off the boards in San Diego, it came back and hit the keeper in the back of the leg and went in."
This time, Ronson, taking his first shift of the evening, ran from the bench to the exact spot where the play was to find him. From about 35 feet, "the ball came to me high, and I had to wait for it to drop so I could take a swing at it. I hit it about knee high and put it the only place I could, the upper left just under the crossbar."
Ronson then took a jog around and headed for the bench. A minute later, it was time to go to work again. This one was a breeze, a rebound goal.
Ahead 8-0 at halftime, the Blast saw its advantage shrink to 8-5 after three periods before putting the game away as the result of a scuffle and penalties in the late going.
Danny Kelly first made it 9-5 with a shootout one-pointer and, fresh out of the penalty box, Tarik Walker tallied an unassisted three-pointer in the 14th minute.
Walker had tallied a spectacular solo goal earlier on a play that saw Philly miss a score by a whisker. "It was lucky," said Walker, "because on a free kick, they had two guys play over the ball. It hit the post and came all the way out to me at the top of the circle. The defender was running so hard to catch up to me, I waited until he was almost with me and cut it back to my right. The goalie was expecting his guy to run me off into the corner, so when I cut it back it caught them both by surprise.
"The three-pointer was a result of a bad change. I came out of the box and intercepted a pass, and the goalie was leaving as a sixth attacker was coming on. I took a couple of dribbles before I noticed that the goal was empty. I was caught by surprise, too."
The Blast earlier defeated Philly at the Baltimore Arena, 13-6. The key to both victories has been the team's ability to hold the Kixx's potent backliner Matt Knowles in check. Once again Knowles did not have a goal and, this time, he didn't get credited with an assist either. The Kixx finally got on the board after being blanked for nearly 33 minutes, exploiting an old bugaboo of the Blast, the restart kick.
Omid Namazi, who triggers the Philly offense with Knowles from outside, beat the Blast wall with a kick that eluded Phillips. The next 10 minutes were uneventful, neither team getting a good opportunity for a score. That changed at 12: 20, however, when Mali Walton converted a pass from Namazi in close and, suddenly, the Blast advantage was down to 8-5. The period ended that way with the visitors holding a 19-15 shots-on-goal advantage.
Philadelphia 0 0 5 0 -- 5
Blast ..... .6 2 0 4 -- 12
First quarter -- 1. Blast, Ronson, 2 pt. (Dougherty), 2: 18; 2. Blast, Ronson, 2 pt. (Walker), 3: 35; 3. Blast, Smith, 2 pt. (Snyder), 10: 51. Penalties -- none.
Second quarter -- 4. Blast, Walker, 2 pt. (unassisted), 8: 33. Penalties -- Philadelphia, Engelhardt (misconduct), 3: 02.
Third quarter -- 5. Philadelphia, Namazi, 3 pt. (restart), 2: 38; 6. Philadelphia, Walton, 2 pt. (Namazi), 12: 20. Penalties -- Blast, Kelly ( unsportsmanlike conduct), Philadelphia, Sloan (elbowing), 5: 07.
Fourth quarter -- 7. Blast, Kelly, 1 pt. (shootout), 11: 16; 8. Blast, Walker, 3 pt. (unassisted), 13: 29. Penalties -- Blast, Walker unsportsmanlike conduct), Philadelphia, D'Ambra and Tschantret (unsportsmanlike conduct), 11: 16.
Shots on goal: Philadelphia 6-6-7-6--25; Blast 8-3-4-4--19. Power-play opportunities: Philadelphia none; Blast 1-for-2. Goalies: Pappas (6-5) 13 shots, 8 saves; Phillips (2-2) 12 shots, 10 saves. A: 4,512.
Pub Date: 12/19/98