Blast rolls, captures NISL regular-season title

The Baltimore Sun

The Blast is the regular-season champion of the National Indoor Soccer League.

With last night's 12-2 victory over the Philadelphia KiXX at 1st Mariner Arena, the team clinched first place in the fledgling league and guaranteed that the championship game will be played April 11 in Baltimore.

It was the sixth consecutive win for the Blast (13-2), which avenged its only home defeat of the season and beat the KiXX for the third time in four meetings.

The Blast is 7-1 at 1st Mariner with only one regular-season game remaining there - against the lowly Massachusetts Twisters.

Machel Millwood and Guiliano Celenza both scored two goals for the Blast, which notched two scores with less than two minutes elapsed in the game and never trailed.

Philadelphia (8-7) is still in a three-team battle for one of the two remaining playoff spots available and visits the Rockford Rampage today for an important game.

The KiXX played without the NISL's leading scorer, Hewerton Moreira, who is out for the season with a knee injury, and most of the way without player-coach Don D'Ambra (foot injury).

"This was a little bit of redemption for ourselves," said Blast coach Danny Kelly, referring to the KiXX's win in Baltimore on Jan. 31.

"Our goal was to get [to the title game], and we needed to stand up and bow tonight.

"We weren't happy with our last performance against them."

Millwood, who also had a late assist, noted that the Blast "wanted to get the first points, be aggressive and see of they could catch up."

"They were really aggressive against us, and we backed down in the last game. So, we wanted to take command early."

Kelly said the team won't let up in the final three games despite the clinching.

"We're not going to stop playing," he said.

"We'll be a little more cautious with guys with injuries, but we're still going out to win. And we need to get better."

Goaltender Sagu stopped 15 KiXX shots in another standout performance, and he nearly had his second shutout in two years.

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