Blast unloads on Impact, 20-6; Team scores nine goals in row for 17-0 lead at half


Montreal coach Tasso Koutsoukos took a timeout right after Blast defender Ronnie Simmons scored a three-point goal midway through the first quarter last night.

Koutsoukos probably was looking to stop the Blast's early momentum, and it worked -- temporarily. The Impact shut out the Blast for the rest of the quarter and five minutes of the second period.

But the Blast (18-11) then ran off 12 straight points in a 10-minute span, scoring all 17 of the game's first-half points en route to a 20-6 win in front of 7,620 at Baltimore Arena.

"We came out to win this game in the first half," said Blast forward Denison Cabral, who scored his 100th point of the season on the last goal of the half. "The second half, we knew they were going to play harder with more concentration. We relaxed a little bit in the second half, but we had that good effort in the first half."

Simmons' goal -- from halfway between the yellow line and midfield line -- was one of the season's longest and gave Baltimore a 5-0 lead. That goal just about deflated the Impact (17-12), the Central Division lead, which had a meltdown instead of a showdown with the East Division-leading Blast for first place in the American Conference.

"You just hit it as hard as you can and just hope for the best," Simmons said of his goal. "It worked out all right, but I'll be the first to say that it was 100 percent luck."

As for the seven goals that followed, it is doubtful any of those would classify as luck. The bulk were simple execution, and taking advantage of a backup goalkeeper Ricky Tangredi, who started in place of All-Star Paolo Ceccarelli because of a coach's decision.

"That was a big game for them," Blast coach Kevin Healey said. "They chose to go with their backup. I can't worry about that. It was a decision that they made, and we just came up with a very big performance."

The Blast set several season highs in the first half, including most goals scored in a quarter (seven), most goals scored in a half (nine), most points scored in a half (17), most consecutive goals in a game (nine).

Mark Thomas, Simmons, Jason Dieter, Cabral, Tarik Walker, Paul Wright and Danny Santoro, scored in the half for the Blast.

Wright's wife, Jennifer, gave birth to the couple's second child about 6 a.m. yesterday.

"It was touch and go, because we had some problems when she [the baby] came out," said Wright, who scored four points on the night. "My wife told me earlier today that I should go. So I figured if I'm going to play, I might as well go all out and not have my mind somewhere else. So we had a good game."

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