Blast's compass shows leaning toward East

Division has given team all of its six victories

NPSL notebook

January 15, 1999|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

Too bad the Blast doesn't play all, or at least more, of its games against Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Florida. The East Division standings would probably look a whole lot different.

Heading into tonight's game against the Milwaukee Wave at Baltimore Arena (7: 35), the Blast carries a record of 6-10, which gives the team the cellar, not only in the division but in the American Conference.

In the East, however, the team has won all of its games against Philadelphia (three), split with Florida (2-2) and gone 1-2 against the Heat. Of the four losses, two of them the Blast probably should have won and one they definitely should have put away.

The flip side of the coin is, though having success in intradivisional play, the team's performance against foes from the Central, North and Midwest Divisions has been ugly: 0-6.

This weekend can go a long way toward either enhancing the situation or making it even more dire. After Milwaukee (12-6), the Detroit Rockers (6-12) come calling tomorrow (7: 35 p.m.), then it's a trip to Buffalo to check out the Blizzard Sunday.

Initially, Blast coach Kevin Healey's approach to the prospect of three games in three days was going to be working his mainstays in and out of the lineup to keep everyone reasonably fresh. But such a plan went by the wayside with a recent rash of injuries.

"The pressure will be on some of the young guys to hold their own because they'll be getting a lot more playing time," said the coach. "I'm confident we'll be all right."

If anything, this is probably the best time to be facing Milwaukee. The Wave is just past the midpoint of a seven-game road trip this month and is 1-3 so far. Then again, the defending league champs might be sick of losing and about to go on a tear.

Offensive fireworks

You'll excuse the Florida Thundercats if they cheer the fact they have to play the Cleveland Crunch and Zoran Karic just one more time this season, at home Feb. 19. The veteran Cruncher laid a seven-goal game on them last week, the first such eruption in the NPSL this season. Thus, Karic took the league scoring lead from teammate Hector Marinaro, 85-84, on Saturday. That lasted just one day, however, as Marinaro moved back on top, 92-90, with eight points against Harrisburg.

This was just one of several offensive breakouts by individuals, including the four-goal blitz Tarik Walker of the Blast had in just one period against Philly. Walker heaped credit upon teammate Franklin McIntosh, who set up most of the goals with deft passes, while explaining Baltimore's 3-0 record against the Kixx thusly: "We match up well with Philly." Indeed, the Blast has won 13-6, 12-5 and 15-8 against the East Division leaders.

Buffalo's Doug Miller scored 11 points, including six goals, as his team was squeezing by Detroit, 18-16, and this was good for Player of the Week honors. Then, Ken Snow of St. Louis had a seven-point game in front of a home crowd of 9,327 in St. Louis.

Around the league

The Blast-Rockers game tomorrow gets HTS treatment. Home Team Sports will also carry the NPSL All-Star Game on Wednesday, with Dave Johnson handling the play-by-play for a 13-cable system network.

Pub Date: 1/15/99

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