Blast leaves Drillers in hole in 16-8 win

Seven quick points in 4th help lift road mark to 9-7

March 06, 2000|By R. John Hayes | R. John Hayes,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Seven points in a 43-second span of the fourth quarter gave the Blast all the lead it needed yesterday. The 16-8 win over the Edmonton Drillers solidified the team's lead in the NPSL's American Conference standings, moving it 3 1/2 games up on idle Philadelphia in the East Division.

Denison Cabral, the Blast's leading scorer, started the burst with a three-point goal. He one-timed a long pass from Erik Rasmussen past Drillers goalkeeper Paul Shepherd. It was Cabral's first three-pointer of the season.

"Cabral's been in a little bit of a slump, especially on free kicks," said Blast coach Kevin Healey. "We talked a little bit about it. He just went back to fundamentals and he struck that ball tremendously for a big, big three-pointer."

Mark Thomas, with a great touch in tight against Shepherd, and Tarik Walker added quick two-pointers against a confused Edmonton club, which has seen its league-leading record fall to .500 in the past 1 1/2 months.

"We played defensively very well, and then made a run with five minutes to go in the game and that was it," said Thomas, who was named first star of the game. "[Goalie] Scott [Hileman] played very well, especially in the first half, and kept us in the game."

"We're very happy with the win," Healey said. "We've done very well in the fourth quarter and on the road all year. We can be very offensively explosive, and we were able to build on good team defense and take advantage of our opportunities when they arose."

Thomas scored the only goal of the first half to stake the Blast to a 2-0 lead. Eric Munoz's first NPSL goal lifted Edmonton into a tie in the third, but Derrick Marcano restored the two-point Blast lead shortly afterward.

"We go in on the road to win a game, not just to stay in a game," Healey said. "We apply some pressure to the home team, and as the game goes along that's tough to counter."

The fourth quarter started with two goals by Edmonton midfielder Sipho Sibiya, the second less than a minute before Cabral's goal.

Edmonton's leading scorer, Nikola Vignjevic, got his only goal on a penalty kick in the fourth, but the Blast salted away the win on a two-point goal by Danny Santoro and a three-pointer into an empty net by Jason Dieter.

"The guys played very well in front of me today, I thought," said Hileman, who was the Drillers' goalie for two seasons. "I was looking forward to coming back here a lot.

"It's a huge advantage to be at home in this league, but it can also be an advantage on the road because you`re not expected to win much. There's less pressure. When we got down two in the fourth quarter, the guys did the job and put the ball away."

The Blast improved its road record to a league-best 9-7. Its next game is in Buffalo on Saturday.

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