Blast puts up a fight, but KiXX gets decision

Flying fists, penalties mar game as it winds down

Philadelphia wins, 11-9

February 27, 2000|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

For close to 55 minutes, not a penalty and very few fouls were called in last night's game between the Philadelphia KiXX and Blast.

Then, well, for the last part of the final quarter, things got a little nasty.

The Blast players spoke beforehand of how the KiXX game would be a dogfight, and they were right about the fight part.

When it was over, six penalties had been called, three players ejected and the fans had a chance to see some rare three-on-three soccer for part of the last five minutes of the 11-9 win by the KiXX in front of 7,689 at Baltimore Arena.

The combatants, Blast forward Mark Thomas and KiXX forward Don D'Ambra, became entangled near the boards with 5: 47 left in the game and the Blast down 10-5. The two fell to the ground, jumped up and threw punches at each other before the officials and teammates broke it up.

Both players were thrown out and, moments later, while play was still halted, Blast goalkeeper Scott Hileman became the third player tossed for headbutting one of the KiXX players.

The fight cost the Blast its hottest player in Thomas, who had averaged seven points in his previous five games.

Six players were hit with penalties as a result of the altercation, leading to six straight shootout attempts, three for each team. Blast forward Denison Cabral went 2-for-3 on his attempts, and KiXX forward Bo Vuckovic went 1-for-3, cutting the KiXX lead to 11-7.

"Of course, I'm the coach of the Blast, but it seemed like the foul was on Don D'Ambra and then he punched Mark," said Kevin Healey, whose team left quickly after the game to prepare for an early morning flight to Montreal.

The teams played 3-on-3 for two minutes, then went to 4-on-4 when Blast coach Kevin Healey decided to pull his goalkeeper. The move worked, as Barry Stitz scored a two-point goal off a Ronnie Simmons assist with just over two minutes left to cut the lead to 11-9.

But the Blast was unable to score in the final two minutes as KiXX goalkeeper Peter Pappas completed an outstanding game.

It had been pretty much of a must-win for Philadelphia, which had lost three of its previous four games to the Blast, if it was to stand any shot at winning the National Professional Soccer League's East Division. The defending East-champion KiXX now is very much alive as it moved to within three games of the Blast.

Both teams had trouble getting good scoring chances in the first period last night. Philadelphia finally got an opportunity and capitalized as defender Pat Morris beat Hileman through his legs at 5: 42 to put the KiXX up 2-0.

Hileman did not have to make any more saves in the period, and Pappas only had to make one.

The Blast did a good job of possessing the ball at the KiXX's end of the field, which led to a number of scoring chances in the second period. The Blast put 17 shots on goal, but Pappas made 13 saves.

Philadelphia 2 2 2 5 11

Blast 0 0 5 4 9

Blast today

Opponent: Montreal Impact

Site: Center Claude Robillard, Montreal

Time: 3: 05 p.m.

Radio: WCBM (680 AM)

Outlook: Coach Kevin Healey said he may go with backup goalkeeper David Tenney in place of Scott Hileman today. Tenney has made only one start this season, a 13-11 win in St. Louis Dec. 27. This is the third game in a row for the Blast. The Blast holds the season-series advantage, 4-1, including a 20-6 win the last time the teams met, Feb. 18.

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