Blast takes hit where it hurts in the ego

Wings force reality check after 4-0 season start

NPSL notebook

November 17, 1999|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

For the first time this season, the Blast had to watch tape from a loss, having to figure out what good might come of it.

The answer -- humility.

The Blast (4-1) had rolled off four straight victories before losing, 16-14, at home to the Wichita Wings (4-2) on Saturday night.

"It's more humbling that we did lose," midfielder Danny Santoro said. "Now, we don't come in cocky or overconfident. I think it's better to get it out of the way early.

"A lot of us were sleeping, including myself," Santoro said. "We can't take anyone for granted. We have to come out and play every game, especially in our home arena."

It's not as though the Blast was going to go undefeated, but the loss did come at a surprising time, with the team playing well offensively and defensively. It also came at home, a place Blast coach Kevin Healey especially wants to defend.

So his spin is a little different from that of some of the players.

"To me, it's a game that you should win," Healey said. "You look back and everyone says you're 4-1, and that's good. But we should have won that game. It's a home game. We're disappointed in that.

"I'm not sure if it was the intensity. We didn't play exactly to our game plan in parts of the first half. When we did in the second half, we did catch them in some problems."

The Blast will have the chance to redeem itself this weekend with two home matches, Friday against the Philadelphia KiXX and Saturday against the Montreal Impact.

It will be the fourth time the Blast and KiXX have met this season.

"It's hard to go on the road after a loss because you're not expected to win the games on the road," Santoro said. "We've got the fans, which should help us out a lot."

Simmons No. 1 in threes

Defender Ronnie Simmons leads the Blast again this season in three-point goals with two.

Simmons ranks 30th all time on the National Professional Soccer League's three-point goal list with 18 and second on the all-time Blast list (also 18).

He is second on the team in blocks (nine) this season, his fifth with the Blast.

"I want to be involved in a lot more of the set plays," Simmons said. "Defensively, try to be as consistent as I can. I'm getting there. I'm taking steps in the right direction.

"Defensively, I don't look at the stats. I think at the end of the day, the only stat that counts is in the win and loss column."

At 6 feet, 195 pounds, Simmons is one the Blast's biggest defenders.

"We need that strong defender in the back, Healey said.

"Ronnie passes the ball well, which sometimes is unusual for a big man. We need him to be an intimidator on defense. Overall, he's had a good season."

Dunn's five earns prize

The performance of the Wings' James Dunn against the Blast earned him the award as NPSL Defensive Player of the Week. Dunn scored five points, two two-point goals and an assist in Wichita's victory.

Dunn scored the game-winner with 23 seconds left.

The Wings appear to be on their way to winning the Midwest Division. The other division teams, the St. Louis Ambush and Kansas City Attack, are a combined 1-6.

The Edmonton Drillers (3-0) are the league's only undefeated team, but will face their toughest test tonight against the Milwaukee Wave (4-1), whose only loss of the season came at the Blast.

Two take a rest

Blast midfielder Barry Stitz and forward Mark Thomas missed practice yesterday. Stitz has a strained knee but should be ready for the weekend. Thomas, who is questionable for the weekend, hurt his shoulder in the first quarter of the Wings' match and will have it evaluated later this week.

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