Blast goal: more talk, no excuses Teamwork key to ending 0-4 skid, beating Kixx

NPSL notebook

November 21, 1998|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

It's official!

"All excuses are off," says Blast coach Kevin Healey. "Sure, we're a new team and we're still feeling each other out, but we're dealing in W's and L's here and we've got to start winning. That's all that matters."

Actually, Healey didn't have to read the riot act to his troops after the home game against St. Louis a week ago. It was a game until the visiting Ambush laid a 10-0 third quarter on the Blast.

"We came back great the next night under some adverse circumstances," the coach said of the team's 16-14 overtime loss in Wichita. "The thing we've got to do now is communicate better. Everybody should be talking out there both on offense and defense."

If it's true that you play as you practice, the Blast is making progress as it heads into Game 5 tonight against the Philadelphia Kixx still seeking its first victory.

After two rugged scrimmages this week, Healey said, "You know what was good about that drill? There were very few goals scored. The guys were concentrating and helping each other out.

"We've blown one game outright and were right in a couple of others. We had problems in the other. We've got to forget what has gone before and go from here. I reminded the guys the Yankees started out something like 1-4, and what did they win, 125 games?"

Onward and upward will be the theme of the coach's pre-game pep talk tonight at the Arena.

League notes

The Power's back on. Well, not exactly. With a new 12,000-seat arena going up in suburban Prospect Park, Chicago interests have applied for entry into the NPSL, beginning in two years.

The Power was exactly that at the start of the decade, when the American Indoor Soccer Association became the NPSL. From a 30-10 record in 1991-92, however, the franchise fell to 6-34 marks in 1994-95 and 1995-96, and folded.

Attendance was never much in the Windy City, going back to the Chicago Vultures, which averaged 427 in 1984-85, and the 984 the Chicago Shoccers averaged the next season. The new arena will have 42 suites and a co-tenant will be a Roller Hockey International team.

As opposed to the Blast, which played just four games in the first 28 days of the season, the Edmonton Drillers played three games in three days, then four in six days, all on the road.

Score of the weak: Philadelphia 20, Florida Thundercats 2. Yesterday's headline: Hector Marinaro and Zoran Karic of Cleveland are first and second in league scoring with 35 and 32 points, respectively. They've led the NPSL each of the last five seasons. Philly defender Matt Knowles took Player of the Week honors for his pair of game-wining goals last weekend.

From the "There-is-no-justice" department: Edmonton goalie Pat Onstad has a points-against average of 6.11, four points better than the next guy, and a fantastic save percentage (80 percent) -- and is still stuck with a 2-2 record. Khalil Azmi of the Blast is 0-3 with a 17.48 PAA and must be wondering where his defense went. In 10 games last weekend, six of the losing teams tallied 2, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7. Meanwhile, four of the 13 teams aren't averaging double figures. Not too exciting, troops. Maybe if you went to an extra attacker.

Blast tonight

Opponent: Philadelphia Kixx

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: 7: 35

Radio: WJFK (1300 AM)

Outlook: The Kixx is on a three-game win streak, the last being a 20-2 obliteration of Florida. Philadelphia leads the East Division with a 4-1 mark and is averaging 16 points per game. Goalie Pete Pappas has a 4-1 record and a 10.6 points-against average. The Blast defense, which was expected to be strong, is surrendering a league-high 18 points per outing. Blast forward Brad Smith, who missed a game with a thigh bruise, returns to the lineup.

Pub Date: 11/21/98

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