PLYMOUTH, MICH. -- The Blast brought back more luggage than cleats and jerseys from Michigan after last night's game with the Detroit Ignition.
An eight-game winning streak had put the Blast atop the Major Indoor Soccer League standings. But that slipped away with a 14-7 loss to the Ignition.
The Blast had overtaken Detroit with an 8-6 win over the California Cougars on Sunday and had an opportunity to secure the lead with a head-to-head victory. Instead, the Blast (15-10) lost its fourth straight to Detroit (16-10) and its fifth of the teams' six meetings this season to fall into a second-place tie with the Philadelphia KiXX (15-10).
"Am I concerned? I don't know," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "We don't play them again this season. If we meet them in the playoffs, I think we'll be ready."
Denison Cabral echoed Kelly's sentiments, saying that much of Detroit's success in the teams' meetings had more to do with the Blast than the Ignition.
"There's nothing special about them," Cabral said. "It's our game.
"Once you go out there and do your best and you get killed, then you can say, 'There was no way to beat this team today.' But once you give up goals, then you've got to start thinking the problem is with you, not the other team. It's because you're not playing your game."
Kelly and Cabral agreed that the Blast created its own problems early by not controlling the ball.
That led to a 7-0 Detroit lead at 9:37 of the second quarter as the Ignition's Jamar Beasley turned around a Blast opportunity, sending a ball deep for Mike Apple, who found himself alone in front of the Blast goal. Apple tucked a left-footed shot into the upper left corner of the goal.
In the first quarter, Detroit's Droo Callahan gave the Ignition a 5-0 lead with a two-point goal at the 1:20 mark and a three-pointer at 10:14. In between, the Blast had a restart opportunity from the goalie's arc, but a crossing play went awry. Callahan scored his second goal seconds later.
The Blast trimmed a 9-2 deficit to 9-7 with a pair of goals in the third quarter, starting with a three-pointer from Cabral at 11:59. Jonathan Steele followed with a close-range score at 13:08 and turned to a boisterous group of Detroit fans with his finger on his lips, signaling them to be quiet as the public address system announced the goal.
"We stepped up our intensity and we started keeping the ball a little bit more," Cabral said. "That was the whole problem we had. We never kept the ball well enough that we were able to play our game. We started chasing too much."
The teams traded opportunities and diving saves until 8:12 of the fourth quarter, when Hewerton Moreira scored on a crossing pass to put the Ignition up 11-7 and draw swaying and chanting from the fans Steele had shushed earlier. The Blast pushed its goalie into the attack, keeping Detroit on the defensive, until the Ignition added an empty-net goal with 20.5 seconds remaining.
When the Blast took control of first place, Kelly downplayed the position's significance. He did the same last night.
"They don't hand out trophies for finishing first place in the regular season, and that's just the truth," he said. "We're still battling for a playoff spot. That was our goal from the start of this season; that's still our goal right now."
Blast 0 2 5 0 - 7
Detroit 5 2 2 5 - 14
First quarter: 1. Detroit, Callahan (2pts.), (Marojevic), 1:20; 2. Detroit, Callahan (3pts.), (Apple), 10:14. Second quarter: 3. Detroit, Apple (2pts.), (Beasley), 9:37; 4. Blast, Millwood (2pts.), (Steele), 14:18. Third quarter: 5. Detroit, Selaidopoulos (2pts.), (Farias), 1:15; 6. Blast, Cabral (3pts.), (Aristodemo), 11:59; 7. Blast, Steele (2pts.), (Garcia), 13:08. Fourth quarter: 8. Detroit, Moreira (2pts.), (Farias), 8:12; 9. Detroit, Beasley (3pts.), (Callahan), 14:39. Shots-on-goal: Blast 2-7-10-6-25; Detroit 9-5-7-7-28; Power-play opportunities: Blast 0-for-0; Detroit 0-for-0. Saves: Blast, Sagu 13, Aristodemo 0; Detroit, Sanaldo, 17. A: 3,798.