When the Blast started finishing last night, the New Jersey Ironmen were finished.
Unable to score for almost 30 minutes, the well-rested Blast kept the heat on and the ball started penetrating the net as the team rolled to a 15-2 Major Indoor Soccer League victory at 1st Mariner Arena in its first game in nearly three weeks.
The result ended the Blast's five-game losing streak that began on the final day of November. New Jersey (8-4) remained in a tie for first place because the Chicago Storm and Detroit Ignition both lost. It equaled the worst defeat of the season for the expansion Ironmen, who were hammered by the Milwaukee Wave, 17-4, on Dec. 9.
The Blast (6-5) had not played since Dec. 15, a break that allowed the roster to heal almost completely.
"It was good to get that break; we had to regroup and get guys on the same page," said assistant coach David Bascome, who led the Blast with two goals. "Just working together was the key. You have to believe in the next guy."
The Blast pressed most of the action through the first two quarters and escaped the trend of slow starts that undermined the team during its skid after it started the season with five consecutive wins.
Neither side could break through, though, until 2:23 remained in the first half when Bascome slightly misdirected Machel Millwood's long-range shot into the goal past Tony Meola, who had eight of the Ironmen's 10 saves. By early in the fourth period, Goran Vasic was in as a sixth attacker, a testament to the Blast's domination.
Less than two minutes later, Lucio Gonzaga, a Brazilian player signed after the season began, dribbled down the left side and beat a defender and Meola for a 4-0 Blast lead.
At the end, the Blast had a 29-12 shot advantage and the admiration of coach Danny Kelly, who was happy the team kept rolling after its early inability to hit the net.
"I'm proud of the way they handled themselves," Kelly said of his players. "One thing we've been talking about is not forcing things when things didn't go our way. We created and finished. The guys gave great effort and left it on the floor."
New Jersey entered the game with a sparkling 6-1 road record. The Blast improved its mark at 1st Mariner to 5-2.
Adauto Neto, who had not played all season after breaking a foot the first day of training camp, was in the lineup early and taking regular shifts. His game fitness is not complete, but he managed an assist on the Blast's fifth goal, feeding P.J. Wakefield for a power-play score.
New Jersey 0 0 2 0 - 2
Blast 0 4 6 5 - 15
First quarter: Penalties: NJ, Maher, 12:02. Second quarter: 1. Blast, Bascome (Millwood), 12:37; 2. Blast, Gonzaga (unassisted), 14:26. Third quarter: 3. New Jersey, Salles (Klijestan), 2:03; 4. Blast, Bascome (Millwood), 4:48; 5. Blast, Millwood (unassisted), 7:40. 6. Blast, Wakefield (Neto), 14:49. Penalties: NJ, Vasic, 14:26. Fourth quarter: 7. Blast, Garcia (Aristodemo), 0:17; 8. Blast, Aristodemo (unassisted) (3-pt.goal), 13:20. Att: 5,622.
Blast (6-5) @ KiXX (5-8)
Site -- Wachovia Spectrum, Philadelphia
Time, radio -- 7:05, 680 AM
Outlook -- The defending champi on KiXX have righted themselves after opening the season 2-7. Philadelphia had won three straight before losing, 12-10, last night at Milwaukee. The Blast began the season with an 8-2 vic tory over the KiXX, with rookie Michael Todd scoring two goals.