Blast players don't expect to get back to their hotel rooms early tomorrow night, when they travel to Tacoma to take on the Stars. Tacoma means overtime, just like San Diego means the zoo and St. Louis means the arch.
In four trips to Washington state a year ago, the Blast lost three overtime games -- 5-4, 5-4, and 6-5 in triple overtime. It did manage one victory, that too coming in overtime and by the familiar 5-4 score.
"It's going to be a difficult challenge against my old teammates," said Blast goalkeeper Cris Vaccaro, who played for Tacoma for two seasons, including all four of those games. "I know their styles, but that goes both ways. Still, I think the fact that we beat them here two weeks ago works in our favor."
The Tacoma game is the first of a two-game road trip that has the Blast traveling to San Diego Satur
day for a Sunday night game against the Sockers, in another homecoming event for Blast midfielders Rod Castro and Waad Hirmez.
"This is a huge road trip for us," said Vaccaro. "We've got to focus on Tacoma and not look ahead to the San Diego game. It's the Tacoma game that will set the tone for the trip. If we can get the first one, much of the pressure is off. If we lose, we'll be 1-3 going into San Diego and our backs will be to the wall again."
The Blast (1-2) has been off for two weeks, and judging by the short tempers at its final practice yesterday, it is more than anxious to play a real game.
"It's a long time between games," said Vaccaro. "It's difficult to come out with the same intensity every day. You hate to see this a few days before a game, but it's almost impossible to avoid."
Blast coach Kenny Cooper said his team still has a lot of work to doon specialty teams (power play, penalty killing, sixth attacker) and in special situations (corner kicks, free kicks, set plays). But despite the work ahead and the recent losing in the Tacoma Dome, Cooper can recall a time when the Blast used to dominate there.
"We've won a lot of one-goal games there in the past," Cooper
said. "What we've got to do is go in with confidence, have a good game plan, play tough defense, kill penalties and when the game is on the line, win it. Last year, we didn't do it. Two weeks ago against the Stars here, Waad came through for us. We've got to build on that as a good sign and steal one there."