The goal-scoring statistics are out for the first quarter of the 1990-91 Major Soccer League season, and there are no surprises with the larger goals in place -- 14 feet wide instead of 12, and 7 1/2 feet high instead of 6 1/2 .
Teams are combining for 11.07 goals per game, compared with 8.02 in the first quarter of last season. The average for the entire season was 8.06.
The increase in the number of hat tricks (three-goal games by a player) is even more striking in the first quarter compared with last year -- 30 to 11.
Scoring on power plays is also up -- 44.37 percent to 30.64 -- in the first quarter, as is the goals-against-average of the goalkeepers.
Tacoma Stars goalkeeper Cris Vaccaro -- 4.00 goals-against average -- leads the league after the first quarter this season. Last year, Cleveland Crunch goalkeeper P.J. Johns (2.90) led after the first quarter.
"It's only going to be a matter of time before the coaches and the players in the league figure out a way to make up for the bigger goals," said the Baltimore Blast's Dale Mitchell. "I don't think this high scoring is going to continue. We're going to figure out a way to cut down the angles and stop the goals."
Blast coach Kenny Cooper said the team has been invited to return to Manchester, England, next December for what most likely will be an expanded role in the English Football League's annual indoor soccer tournament.
Last week, the Blast defeated the top English Second Division outdoor team, Oldham Athletic, 6-1, in a Leaf Transatlantic Challenge game that was held in addition to a 20-team indoor tournament involving all 20 English First Division outdoor teams.
"They want us to play in the tournament," said Cooper. "And it looks like we're going to do it. We matched Oldham in skill, speed and almost everything else. It was a victory for indoor soccer. We'll never be looked at again as second-class citizens. We beat a real good team."
Cooper, whose home is in Blackpool, 52 miles from Manchester, said: "The whole experience was a great thrill in my lifetime. Barriers have been broken. When Sir Matt Busby [Manchester United outdoor coach for 20 years] presented the Blast the trophy for winning, it was like having George Halas do it. Sir Matt Busby is 82 years old and the father of soccer in that country."
A 15-year reunion for the University of Baltimore's 1975 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II champion soccer team last week attracted the likes of coach Dick Edell, leading scorer Pete Caringi and outstanding players such as Charles Myers and Dale Rothe.
The team posted a 14-2-1 record and defeated Seattle-Pacific, 3-2, in the national championship game. Caringi, now coach of the Maryland Bays, scored two goals in the title game.
It looks as if John Mangione will be doing the color for the six Blast games that will be televised on Channel 45 this year.
Mangione did the play-by-play for the Maryland Bays playoff games on WCBM radio last summer.
Art Sinclair will handle the play-by-play duties on Channel 45 this season.
Denny The Detonator will do in a pinch, and the exploding dynamite is fine if you like a lot of noise.
But the most popular additions to the Baltimore Blast games this season are the new cheerleaders/dancers who are known as a "Touch of Blast."
It was just last year when the fans booed some amateur Blast cheerleaders off the floor. Those women were so embarrassed they never returned the rest of the season.
The new cheerleaders, who are professional dancers, do routines similar to those seen in the National Football League and already have attracted a close following from many of the fans.
"I had one little boy asking me for my autograph," said Lisa Manekin.
Tina Eberly, choreographer of a Touch of Blast, has incorporated her experience as a dancer for the Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Colts and Baltimore Stars into the group's act.
"We're pros, we practice twice a week and we want to put on a good show," said Eberly. "I'm always looking for new dancers to make us even better. Six of us were Co-Stars."
Eberly, Manekin, Lydia Smith, Jody Flaharty, Gail Williams and Lisa Dobrodey were once dancers for the Baltimore Stars in the United States Football League. They were known as the Co-Stars.