Thomas-led Blast wins in Buffalo

Forward's four scores highlight 17-14 victory

Soccer

February 05, 2000|By Dan Hickling | Dan Hickling,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- With two important offensive cogs numbered among the missing, the Blast needed someone to step up last night.

Forward Mark Thomas answered the challenge.

Thomas banged in a season-high four goals, and Barry Stitz scored three more to lead the Blast to a 17-14 win over the Buffalo Blizzard before an announced Marine Midland Arena crowd of 4,523.

Thomas, who entered the game with 12 two-pointers for the season, scored twice each half, his latter two putting the game in Baltimore's win column.

"They were dominating play, especially in the first quarter," said Thomas. "But we got lucky and got some counterattack goals, which is nice to do on the road."

In fact, the win tied the Blast (7-6) with Milwaukee as the only NPSL teams with winning road records.

Baltimore came in minus midfielder Danny Kelly, who missed his fifth game with a hamstring injury. The Blast lost Paul Wright in the game's early moments with a pulled muscle in one side.

Even so, Baltimore raced to a 6-0 lead in the opening 3 1/2 minutes, only to be tied by quarter's end. Stitz was credited with the first two Blast goals, but his second -- 14 seconds into play -- bounded off Blizzard defender Carlos Zavala's leg.

Forward Danny Barber fueled Buffalo's comeback with a pair of first-period goals and another 32 seconds into the second period.

"It's a big field," said Baltimore coach Kevin Healey, "and they were keeping the ball, because we let them. At that time, we needed to pressure the ball and create a turnover, and we weren't doing that."

Momentum shifted Baltimore's way midway through the second period, when the Blast received the game's first power play. Scoring leader Denison Cabral cashed the one-point shootout, and moments later, Thomas banged home Erik Rasmussen's cross to put Baltimore ahead, 9-8.

The teams traded goals before the half. Thomas' chip into an open net was the only goal of the third period at 14: 21, his third of the night giving the Blast a 13-10 lead. He later polished off a give-and-go with Stitz to push the lead to 17-12.

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