Despite loss, Cooper pleased by rally

SOCCER

November 19, 1990|By John Lawrence | John Lawrence,Special to The Sun

TACOMA, Wash. -- As Kenny Cooper's voice echoed loudly through the hall outside the Baltimore Blast locker room at the Tacoma Dome late Saturday night, it didn't seem as though the coach was considering the bright side of his team's 5-4 overtime loss to the Tacoma Stars.

But after the door opened, Cooper was calm, almost analytical about the game, emphasizing his team's comeback from a 4-1 deficit in the last 17 minutes, not Nikki Ristic's goal at 8 minutes, 29 seconds of overtime that dropped the Blast (4-5) into last place in the Major Soccer League East.

"We showed great character," Cooper said. "We came from two goals down in San Diego [Thursday] to win [5-4 in overtime]. We came back tonight from 4-1 down and played them even. We're getting there."

The two-game trip was an improvement over the first one -- losses at Wichita (8-3) and Kansas City (7-6).

"But these are games, obviously, you have to win," Cooper added. "We're 1-2 in overtime. It's a young season. It's a disappointing loss."

Tacoma dominated the first half in building a 3-0 lead. Stars coach Keith Weller called it "the best half we've played all season."

Cooper seemed to agree.

"Tacoma came off a big win [5-4 over Wichita]. The first half, I thought they played real well. They were great. They were tremendous. We just regrouped at half, and we turned it up a notch. It was a game of two halves, as the score indicates."

"You can't get things going inside because they drop back so quickly," Cooper said. "Our plan was to hit from long range. Sometimes that's going to happen, when people are in front of the goalkeepers. But I was real proud of the way we battled back."

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