PHILADELPHIA -- Blast goalie Scott Hileman's teammates had a lot of fun scoring on him in practice last week, but the team didn't find any joy last night when the Philadelphia KiXX made the Blast's All-Star pay for every lapse.
When the ball rolled in off Hileman's fingertips for a six-goal Philadelphia lead, Blast defender Billy Nelson couldn't believe it, and acknowledged his amazement by rolling his eyes.
Even All-Stars and championship teams have bad nights. Last night, Hileman and his teammates had theirs. From the beginning, the game seemed to be played on fast forward, with the KiXX controlling the remote en route to a 9-3 victory before 7,142 at the Spectrum.
"Personally and as a team, we haven't played this poorly in a long time," said Hileman, who had seven saves on 14 shots. "It's a wake-up call. These kind of nights happen. Now it's up to us to respond."
Philadelphia was led by Don D'Ambra, who had three goals, and goalie Peter Pappas, who made 23 saves, with his teammates blocking 17 more shots.
The prettiest goal was scored by KiXX defender Drew Kopp (two goals) with 5.8 seconds left in the third period.
Kopp stole the ball from P.J. Wakefield and sprinted the length of the field to score on a header off a rebound of his own shot for a 7-2 lead.
It was a tremendous all-around performance for Philadelphia, with six KiXX players scoring, including Kevin Sloan, who got his goal on a shootout against Neil Gilbert, who was forced to wear the goalie's jersey because the Blast did not dress a backup goalie and Hileman had been sent to the penalty box for tripping.
The KiXX improved to 14-8 and won its third straight game. The Blast, which got goals from David Bascome, Rich Daughtridge and Lee Tschantret, slipped to 18-7.
Playoff intensity was certainly in the air. The Blast has been hot since early in the season, working hard to secure the Eastern Division title and even the best record in the Major Indoor Soccer League. And Philadelphia is equally determined to overtake the Blast.
"This was one of the worst games we've played this season," said Blast coach Tim Wittman. "Maybe the only one that was worse was the last time we played here, back in November."
Wittman, who had to be tracked down at the far end of the Spectrum's exit ramp because he said he didn't want to be near his team's locker room, had no doubt about what kind of loss this was.
"Tonight, we saw that we've been successful so far without giving 100 percent," he said. "Now, we'll find out what we've got. This is going to be a good loss."
Blast 0 1 1 1 -- 3
Philadelphia 2 4 1 2 -- 9
First quarter -- 1. Philadelphia, Morris (Vasic) 2:24; 2. Philadelphia, D'Ambra (unassisted), 3:58. Penalties -- Blast, Tschantret (misconduct, dissent) 10:18. Second quarter -- 3. Philadelphia, D'Ambra (Guastaferro) 4:00; 4. Philadelphia, Sloan (shootout/power play) 4:17; 5. Philadelphia, McPeak (unassisted) 6:08; 6. Philadelphia, D'Ambra (Morris) 10:51; 7. Blast, Bascome (Handsor), shorthanded 14:59. Penalties -- Blast, Hileman (tripping) 4:15; Blast, Wakefield (tripping) 14:17; Blast, Cabral (misconduct) 14:17. Third quarter -- 8. Blast, Daughtridge (Farias) 11:27; 9. Philadelphia, Kopp (unassisted), 11:27. Penalties -- Philadelphia, D'Ambra (tripping) 5:40. Fourth quarter -- 10. Philadelphia, Kopp (Morris), 4:17; 11. Philadelphia, Shanker (Pappas), 12:19. 12. Blast, Tschantret (Farias), 14:34 sixth attacker. Penalties -- None. Shots on goal -- Blast 9-5-18-12-44; Philadelphia 8-5-1-5-19. Power-play opportunities -- Blast 0-for-1; Philadelphia 1-for-2. Shootout opportunities -- Blast 0-for-0; Philadelphia 1-for-1. Goalkeepers -- Blast, Hileman, 7 saves, Gilbert, 0 saves, Bascome, 0; Philadelphia, Pappas, 23 saves. A -- 7,142.