Forward Stan Stamenkovic, helped from the field with 11 minutes left in the third quarter, recovered from a minor ankle injury in the final period tonight to score two goals and help the Baltimore Blast defeat the San Diego Sockers, 10-6, in Game 3 of the Major Indoor Soccer League championship series.
San Diego leads the best-of-seven series, two games to one. Game 4 will be at 1:35 p.m. Saturday here at the Civic Center.
A four-goal, one-assist night by Stamenkovic helped compensate for a subpar first-half performance by the Blast defense, which allowed several Socker goals by playing carelessly.
"We knew that 75 percent of their goals are scored on fast breaks, so in the second half we consolidated as a defense and played as a team," said Richard Chinapoo, who scored an open-net goal with 1:29 left for the final tally. "The more we keep the ball from them, the more they lose confidence."
Despite the several defensive lapses, Baltimore led, 5-4, at the half, in part because of a 25-9 shot advantage. But San Diego victimized Baltimore 10 seconds into the second half when Branko Segota followed Jean Willrich's pass with a shot past Scott Manning for a 5-5 tie.
As it did all game, the Blast returned the favor quickly -- 34 seconds later, in this case. Chinapoo put Baltimore ahead again with a shot from the top of the circle.
Another defensive lapse, by Manning on a Blast power play, cost Baltimore another goal. Manning chased a loose ball to near midfield, where Fernando Clavijo gained control and tapped in an easy roller.
Joey Fink retaliated 21 seconds later from the right side. Stamenkovic then netted two more goals to force San Diego to pull goalie Zoltan Toth with 5:27 to go.
Steve Zungul, the MISL's leading scorer, assisted Kaz Deyna's goal with 12:15 left in the half and then scored his 10th goal of the playoffs, putting San Diego up, 4-2.
Stamenkovic responded, setting up Pat Ercoli for a score off a corner kick and then scoring two goals in the final 1:14 of the half to give the Blast a 5-4 lead.