Neto's power-play goal lifts Blast

The Baltimore Sun

In a virtual midseason "must-win" game for the Blast, the power play was the team's best friend last night.

With Monterrey La Raza short-handed in the closing minutes, Adauto Neto flicked home a shot originally launched from outside by Robbie Aristodemo and carried the Blast to a hard-fought 10-9 win before an announced 5,721 at 1st Mariner Arena.

A holding penalty against Ivan Paredes gave the Blast the extra man, and Aristodemo directed the assault on La Raza goalkeeper Jose Eduardo Bontti. With one minute remaining in regulation, Neto converted and La Raza couldn't counter in the waning seconds with a six-attacker lineup.

The outcome returned the Blast (7-7) to .500 and ended a two-game losing streak. Monterrey (5-10) had won four of its previous six games.

"No doubt this was a must-win game for us being home," Aristodemo said. "I was getting nervous. We were down one, and time was running out. It was emotional at the end because all the pressure is on us to get the best chances we can."

The Blast surrendered several goals on mistakes and didn't play as efficiently as in its two most recent losses, coach Danny Kelly said.

"It wasn't a good performance," Kelly said. "The first quarter, we had a good rhythm, and then we started having too many turnovers. The last few before this, we played well and didn't get the results. Tonight, we didn't play well and got the win. I'll take the win. We need results right now."

With the Philadelphia KiXX losing in Chicago, the Blast moved back into sixth place, the final position to qualify for the playoffs in the nine-team Major Indoor Soccer League.

Neto, the league's Most Valuable Player two seasons ago, pitched in with two assists as he continued his return from a broken foot suffered on the first day of training camp.

"I'm not really back yet. I need to get in shape," Neto said. "I'm still a little slow."

After the Blast dominated the first period on goals by Giuliano Celenza and Aristodemo, it became a nip-and-tuck game with Monterrey twice wresting the lead away when Sagu was caught out of the net with no teammate to protect him.

"We twice gave them soft goals," Kelly said. "You can't do that. Luckily, it didn't cost us the game tonight." Monterrey's Dino Delevski, the league's No. 2 scorer, was held to one goal.

Monterrey 0 4 3 2 - 9

Blast 4 2 2 2 - 10

First quarter: 1. Blast, Celenza (Millwood), 4:21; 2. Blast, Aristodemo (Cabral), 8:45. Second quarter: 3. Monterrey, Negrete (Gilbert), 5:48; 4. Monterrey, Delevski (unassisted), 7:48; 5. Blast, Wakefield (Neto), 14:54. Penalties: M, Gilbert, 0:41. Third quarter: 6. Monterrey, Teran (unassisted) (3 pt. goal), 1:30; 7. Blast, Cabral (Neto), 14:34. Penalties: B, Pierce, 2:43; B, Sagu, 6:25; M, Birche, 13;25. Fourth quarter: 8. Monterrey, Quiroz (unassisted), 0:43; 9. Blast, Neto (Aristodemo), 14:00. Penalties: M, Paredes, 12:31. Attendance: 5,721.

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