It doesn't get easier for Blast vs. Ambush But Healey is confident 0-2 team on right track

NPSL notebook

November 13, 1998|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

The standings read two games played, two games lost. The Blast is the only team in the NPSL that hasn't registered a victory to date and next up is another of the league's top teams, the St. Louis Ambush, tonight (7: 35) at the Baltimore Arena.

Winning is the bottom line, of course, but at the same time so is development.

"There were a couple of things to like about our game in Milwaukee [a 12-8 loss]," said coach Kevin Healey. "For one thing, we came back, not once but twice.

"We trailed 8-2 after three periods and got the next two goals. Then, after they [Wave] made it 10-6, we closed to within a goal again.

"We had numerous opportunities to tie. It was actually a two-point game with an empty-net goal at the end."

More than the fact it has been close in its two setbacks -- the other being a one-point loss to Harrisburg -- the Blast has shown an ability to dictate the flow of games.

"We've had our chances in both games," said Healey. "We outshot Milwaukee, 45-24, for instance. But we just couldn't capitalize against [goalie] Victor Nogueira." No surprise, Nogueira is the league's best.

Actually, the Blast hasn't had any problems in the shots department, outgunning the opposition in three of the four quarters for a 74-60 bulge overall.

"Thing is, we've got to start getting some cheap goals off rebounds and ricochets," said Healey.

Despite likely missing forward Brad Smith (thigh bruise) and defender Todd Hicks (knee) this weekend, the coach said: "I think we're on top of our first win. In fact, I'm confident we can get both games this weekend."

League notes

The Buffalo Blizzard was good enough to win the North Division last season and it is a strong favorite to repeat. Small wonder. In addition to moving over from Cincinnati to coach, George Fernandez brought the best of his disbanded Silverback squad with him: Bernie Lilavois, Danny Barber, Scott Blokker and Ricky Rodriguez. Buffalo opened with a 21-14 win over St. Louis, its seventh straight home-opening victory.

The new kids on the block, the Florida Thundercats, certainly aren't playing like expansionists. They knocked off Harrisburg in the Heat's home opener, Mark Thomas hitting the winning goal with just eight seconds remaining. The 'Cats opened in a new arena, the 19,000-seat National Car Rental Center, which sounds as if it must be located at the airport.

Tarik Walker of the Blast would have enjoyed a victory in Milwaukee last game, but the consolation prize wasn't bad: he received his last year's championship ring from the Wave. Walker scored 28 points for Milwaukee during the playoffs.

The Detroit Rockers are the fourth NPSL club to set a club record for attendance (10,624) in its first home contest. So far, the league's average attendance per game has been 7,500.

Goalkeeper Chris D'Amico picked up NPSL Player of the Week honors by holding Kansas City to three points as his Wichita teammates were scoring a dozen. D'Amico made it doubly memorable, scoring a goal with a field-length, Carl Furillo-type heave into an empty net. The Wings play host to the Blast Sunday.

Pub Date: 11/13/98

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