NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Blast coach Kevin Healey took one look at the unusually large playing area at the Gaylord Entertainment Center for last night's neutral-site game and knew ball possession would decide the matchup with the Philadelphia KiXX.
Sure enough, a first half of successfully clogging up the middle and creating scoring chances off turnovers wasn't enough to carry the Blast past the KiXX, as Philadelphia played ball control when it mattered in the second half and edged the Blast, 11-10, before 5,983.
"We wanted to stay balanced and prevent numbers-up situations," Healey said after the Blast slipped to 13-13 by losing for the fifth time in six games against the KiXX. "The key on this field was keeping the ball because the field was so big."
Lee Tschantret scored a pair of two-point goals for the Blast, which had won three of its previous four games. Paul Wright, Lance Johnson and Tarik Walker also scored for the Blast.
Joel Shanker scored twice for the KiXX (16-10), but it was Don D'Ambra's goal 3:16 into the fourth quarter that gave Philadelphia its margin of victory.
When Blast goalie Scott Hileman came out to challenge Drew Kopp along the right wing, Kopp lifted the ball over Hileman. D'Ambra, the trailer on the play, had an easy shot into an open net for an 11-8 lead.
The Blast cut the advantage to 11-10 with 1:59 left in regulation on a sixth-attacker, power-play goal after Philadelphia's Chris Marinos had picked up his fourth foul.
Baltimore used the first half to school novice indoor soccer fans on the art of defending against the counterattack and forcing turnovers.
But in the second half, the KiXX proved that patience while adjusting to a defensive scheme can be just as important as scoring goals.
The Blast had a 4-2 lead at the end of the first period, with Tschantret sandwiching goals around a two-pointer by Shanker.
Tschantret's first goal gave the Blast a 2-0 lead 6:44 into the game. Aggressive play in the middle third of the field yielded a turnover, and Sean Bowers led Tschantret down the right wing with a long pass that his teammate converted from just inside the three-point arc.
After Shanker tied the game at 8:15, Tschantret restored the lead on a restart. Bowers powered a pass from the left-wing boards, and Tschantret used a back-heel to redirect the ball past goalkeeper Peter Pappas from the middle of the penalty area at 10:21.
Johnson took advantage of a KiXX defensive breakdown midway through the second quarter to extend the lead to 6-2. No one marked Johnson 10 feet in front of the goal as he easily converted Denison Cabral's rebound.
Blast 4 2 2 2 - 10
Philadelphia 2 3 4 2 - 11
First period-1, Blast, Tschantret, 2 pt. (Bowers), 6:44; 2, Phila.,Shanker 2 pt. (D'Ambra), 8:45; 3, Blast, Tschantret 2 pt. (Bowers), 10:21. Penalties-None.
Second period-4, Blast, Johnson 2 pt. (Cabral), 8:25. 5, Phila., Morris 3pt. (Handsor), 10:50. Penalties-None.
Third period-6, Phila., Shanker 2 pt. (Handsor), 1:31. 7, Blast, Wright 2pt. (Gutierrez), 4:05. 8, Phila., Scigliano 2 pt. (D'Ambra), 13:47. Penalties-Hesch, Phila. (tripping), 5:26 .
Fourth period-9, Phila., D'Ambra 2 pt. (Kopp), 3:16. 10, Blast, Walker 2pt. (Celenza), 13:01 (pp, sa). Penalties-Marinos, Phila. (four fouls), 12:37.
Shots on goal: Blast, 4-6-6-4--20; Phila., 8-7-11-2-28- . Power-playopportunities: Blast, 1 for 2; Phila., 0 for 0; Goalkeepers: Blast, Hileman(57:51, L), Wright (2:09); Phila., Pappas (60:00, W). Referees: Ron Corey,Teddy Griegourio, Brian Martin. Att: 5,983.