Despite disorder, Blast gets 26-13 win

Fights, confusion mar victory over Crunch

Pro Soccer

January 28, 2001|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

Even the officials had trouble keeping things straight last night between the Blast and Cleveland Crunch.

In a series that has seen its share of misadventures through the years, this game only added to the lore.

The Blast eventually won, 26-13, at the Baltimore Arena, completing a two-game sweep that ended a 1-for-10 run against Cleveland and boosted the Blast back into first place in the American Conference.

"We put the pressure on ourselves to make a statement against Cleveland this weekend, and we definitely did that," Blast coach Kevin Healey said. "The difference was we kept plugging away, creating turnovers and capitalizing on our chances."

But those achievements did not come without turmoil.

The Blast had won in Cleveland, 27-12, Friday night, so the stage was set here for an intense battle between two competitive teams.

It took 50 minutes to play the first 15-minute quarter after a series of fights broke out at the 9:55 mark that tested the knowledge of game officials and the temper of Crunch coach Bruce Miller, who was ejected at the end of the first half.

"I've got to be careful," Miller said after the game. "I'm already going to get fined. But we were in the game working and fighting hard and we had a lot to overcome. There was so much confusion. No one seemed to know what was going on."

Miller declined to be more specific.

"I don't want to get fined anymore," he said. "And Baltimore is a great team. I take nothing away from them. They took advantage of the situations they were given."

It all began when one of two things - or perhaps both - happened. The Blast's Paul Wright thought Cleveland's John Ball punched him when the officials weren't looking, while Ball said the situation had been instigated by Wright. Whichever, the intensity on both sides exploded, with mini-fights breaking out across the field.

Blast forward Lee Tschantret seemed to be going after Ball and Andy Schmetzer in turn. He didn't draw a penalty for either, and said later he was simply "pushing Ball away" and had "grabbed Schmetzer around the neck to restrain him."

"If I had been hitting anyone, I'd be the first to say I got away with something," Tschantret said, and then smiled. "Back-to-back wins against them. Convincingly. It feels good."

In the meantime, Cleveland goalie Otto Orf hurled the ball at Wright's head, he said, to protect a teammate.

The Blast ended up getting the better of the ordeal. Wright got two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, while Cleveland's Ball got a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct and Orf received a major misconduct. Both joined Michael Burke in the penalty box. Burke was serving an earlier two-minute penalty for tripping.

Even when all of that had been sorted out, the officials struggled with the aftermath of the penalties.

The Blast power play that should have seen it enjoying a 4-3 advantage instead found it playing four-on-four, with no official stepping in to make the correction. And when Baltimore should have had a five-on-four advantage, the sides played at least 30 seconds of five-on-five before officials stopped play to figure it out.

And when senior official Manuel Ortiz decided the Blast should have had the extra-man advantage, no time was put back on the clock.

All of it took so long that Blast goalie Scott Hileman (11 saves) joked with an official at the end of the first period, "What time's breakfast?"

Despite the disruption and high emotions, the score was a tidy 5-4 in favor of the Blast at the end of the first period.

"The first-quarter thing could have gotten out of hand, and it did a little bit," Hileman said. "But we weathered it, and then we definitely fired on all cylinders."

Tschantret gave the Blast the lead for good at 12:45 of the second quarter, and they went on to outscore the Crunch, 21-9, over the last three periods. Midfielder Paul Wright showed the way with a three-point goal and three assists.

For the game, Denison Cabral had five points and Jason Dieter and Tarik Walker each scored four points. Cleveland was led by Goran Vasic with four points and Michael Burke with three.

Blast 5 12 5 4 - 26

Cleveland 4 5 0 4 - 13

First quarter - Crunch, Vignjevic 2 pts. (0:15)(unassisted); Blast, Wright 3 pts. (Tschantret) (2:41) pp. Blast, Thomas 1 pt (5:05); Crunch, Vasic 2 pts. (Edgerton) (10:21) pp.; Blast, Cabral 1 pt.(13:04). Penalties: Crunch, Ball (tripping) 1:04; Crunch, Burke (tripping) 4:25; Crunch, Ball (unsportsmanlike conduct) 5:05; Orf (major misconduct) 5:05; Blast, Wright (unsportsmanlike conduct); Blast, Santoro (tripping) 9:36; Crunch, Sedgewick (elbowing) 13:04.

Second quarter - Crunch, Marinaro 2 pts (4:25); Blast, Dieter 2 pt. (Thomas)(5:12); Blast, Cabral 1 pt. (5:12); Blast, Thomas 1 pt. (5:12); Blast, Walker 2 pts. (Cabral) (6:29); Crunch, Burke 3 pts. (James) (9:02); Blast, Walker 2 pts. (Wright) (11:30); Blast, Tschantret 2 pts. (Wright) (12:45); Blast, Dieter 2 pts. (Walker) (14:22). Penalties: Crunch, Ball (major misconduct, ejection) 5:12; Crunch coach Miller (ejection) (15:00).

Third quarter - Blast, Cabral 1 pt. (0:00); Blast, Cabral 2 pts (1:36) pp; Blast, Daughtridge 2 pts. (7:05). Penalties: None.

Fourth quarter - Crunch, Sedgewick 2 pts. (Vignjevic) (4:32); Blast, Johnson 2 pts. (Daughtridge) (5:28); Blast, Marcano 2 pts. (UA) (6:17); Crunch, Vasic 2 pts. (Vignjevic) (12:44). Penalties: None.

Shots on goal - Blast 13-16-10-5-44. Crunch 10-5-8-10-33. Goalie saves - Blast, Hileman 11; Campbell 2. Crunch, Orf 15. DiCello 4. A. - 4,988.

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