Thomas remains questionable for Blast after concussion

2-game weekends mean more time for youngsters

NPSL notebook

Soccer

January 03, 2001|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Blast veteran forward Mark Thomas, who missed Saturday's 16-7 loss at Cleveland with a concussion, remains questionable for this weekend.

Yesterday, coach Kevin Healey said Thomas - hurt in the second half of Friday's home win against Milwaukee - was still experiencing headaches, and the team will know more by tomorrow about his availability. The Blast travels to Wichita on Friday and returns home Saturday to play Harrisburg.

Against Cleveland, newcomer Jeff Clarke, a 23-year-old defender picked up in the re-entry draft when the Edmonton franchise folded, played his first game in a Blast uniform.

"He's very composed, talks well on the field; he's fitting in right away with the guys, and he's willing to learn," Healey said.

This past weekend was the first of six straight in which the Blast will play two games. This will give Healey a chance to get some younger players, like Clarke, playing time to rest any nagging injuries.

On Saturday, the Blast had a 49-32 edge in shots and controlled play most of the way, but the Crunch continues to be an itch just out of reach.

The first of eight regular-season meetings between the two rivals was a tough order for the Blast, which finished beating Milwaukee around 10 p.m. Friday and was at the airport seven hours later. The Crunch, which led 11-7 with four minutes left before pulling away, got 25 saves from veteran goalkeeper Otto Orf.

"He made a lot of good saves, and they came through on their opportunities," said Healey. "So we performed well but didn't find a way to win the game, and in that way it's frustrating that it had to be Cleveland."

DiFlorio, Orf honored

Harrisburg Heat forward Gino DiFlorio earned Offensive Player of the Week and Orf was named Defensive Player of the Week.

DiFlorio, second in the league in scoring with 75 points, scored 17 points in the Heat's 1-2 week, including 10 assists.

Orf had 13 saves in a 16-12 win over Harrisburg on Friday and then turned back 25 Blast shots in a 16-7 win on Saturday.

The Cleveland veteran ranks last in the league with a 15.08 points-against average.

After honoring one overall player, the league started naming two players each week two weeks ago, when the Philadelphia KiXX swept the honors with Kevin Sloan on offense and goalie Peter Pappas on defense.

Miscellaneous

The Blast ranks last in the National Professional Soccer League in penalty killing (42.9 percent), with foes having converted on 12 of 21 power-play opportunities. Harrisburg (77.8) is the league leader. ... The Wichita Wings (9-7) have won four straight, scoring a combined 44 points in wins over Buffalo and Detroit last week. ... Detroit defender Matt Knowles recorded his 800th career point with a three-pointer Saturday. ... In the nine NPSL games played last week, the home team won eight. ... Expansion Toronto, first in the National Conference with a 10-5 mark, has dropped consecutive games for the first time.

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