Feuding Wings give Blast push in the right direction

November 12, 1990|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Evening Sun Staff

With the Blast leading the way, the Major Soccer League has a chance to become all things to all people.

Like ice hockey? Get a load of Blast midfielder Mike Stankovic's forechecking technique.

Like the fights? Check out the fisticuffs between Billy Ronson and Wichita's Chico Borja.

How about wrestling? The move Wichita goalkeeper Kris Peat put on Blast rookie Chris Haywood, after Haywood pushed him, would have made Hulk Hogan proud.

What about a great debate? Blast coach Kenny Cooper going one-on-one with ref Marty Templin got a near standing ovation from the 5,060 at the Arena last night. But it didn't impress Templin, who gave Cooper a yellow caution card.

As for soccer, the Blast demonstrated it can play that too, in a rousing, 7-4 victory over the Wichita Wings.

The win ends a two-game losing streak and lifts the Blast to 3-4, as it prepares for a two-game road trip later this week to San Diego and Tacoma.

For one of the few times during this young season, the Blast played solid, in-your-face defense. And the scoring came on some of the most skillful plays of this or any season.

And then, of course, there was Hank Henry (1-1), the Blast's new, inexperienced goalkeeper.

Last night, he played like Tacoma's Chris Vaccaro, the league's leading keeper, holding Wichita to just two goals, until the final 1:21 of the fourth quarter, when the Wings managed two goals off free kicks.

"Their keeper made some big plays in the second half," said Wichita's Perry Van Der Beck. "You have to give him and their defense credit. It's a little arena with big goals and they stopped us."

"My defense played so well, I only had to do my job," said Henry, who made eight saves on 31 shots, as his teammates blocked 19 others. "My defenders stopped everything."

Wichita coach Terry Nicholl, however, thought his team had a lot to do with the Blast's success.

"When Hank Henry played with Dallas, he shut us out," recalled Nicholl. "He's the only goalkeeper to ever do that to us in our own arena. In this game, he played well. But we disintegrated in the second half. We're a team of free spirits. As soon as anything goes against us, we react negatively. We lose our discipline. People will say I'm overreacting, but it's been 2 1/2 years now, and I don't see it getting any better."

Nicholl, who exploded at his 4-4 team following its third loss in four games, said he will ask his players if they want him to remain as coach.

The start of the Wings' downfall was one of the prettiest goals fans are likely to witness. Haywood stole the ball to start a fastbreak, while second-year man Joe Barger, who has two fractured bones in his right leg, streaked down the far side of the field.

"Chris held the ball just long enough," said Barger.

"I just waited until the defense sagged on me, then I slipped it to Joey," explained Haywood.

The end result was a Haywood to Barger goal, the first assist of Haywood's pro career and the first goal of the season for Barger. It came 27 seconds into the third quarter, to give the Blast a 3-2 lead and set the tone for the half.

"It should have inspired us," said Van Der Beck. "We have a lot of senior pros on this team. They should have been dying to take care of those young guys. But coach is right. We do get down on each other. It's not right for us to be fighting among ourselves."

While the Blast was rekindling memories, Wichita made every forced and unforced error imaginable -- at one point Van Der Beck had an open shot three feet from the goal, but inexplicably cleared it out of the box instead.

"We were really intense," said Blast forward Domenic Mobilio, who scored once and assisted on Mark Mettrick's winning goal. "We wanted to play tough defense and we did."

In fact, the Blast didn't allow Wing Dale Ervine, the MSL's leading goal scorer (14) until this weekend, to find the net. Ervine did manage to keep his 16-game point-scoring streak intact, with an assist on Terry Rowe's last goal of the game.

Not to be outshone, the Blast's offense also clicked. Consistent three-on-two breakaways will do that.

Dale Mitchell (one goal, one assist), Tim Wittman, Mike Reynolds and Stankovic all scored and Ronson handed out three assists.

Stankovic's goal came off an outlet pass from Henry.

"It was my first assist ever," smiled the 25-year-old keeper, who had played in only four previous games before joining the Blast Thursday. "I think if I just stay relaxed and play the game, I'll be all right."

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