Blast has field day vs. Crunch, 18-8

Tschantret starts onslaught in big road win for Healey team


March 12, 2001|By Dale Meggas | Dale Meggas,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CLEVELAND - The Blast stayed very much alive for its shot at a first-place finish in the NPSL's American Conference last night with an 18-8 victory over the Cleveland Crunch behind goals from eight different players.

The Blast (20-14) stayed on the heels of pace-setter Harrisburg (22-14) with the win.

"We just have to play them one at a time," said Blast coach Kevin Healey afterward. "We're just looking to get the very best seed possible. We're a pretty good road team."

His team moved to 8-8 on the road with last night's win. It also moved the Blast to a 4-3 season advantage over the Crunch with two games left between the two in Baltimore on March 20 and March 24.

But the big game on the Blast's slate is a March 30 game in Harrisburg. Should the Blast and Heat stay within a game of each other between now and then, that contest, the seventh of the season between the rivals, will be a possible tiebreaker. Each has won three times in the six meetings.

Against Cleveland, 16-18 with the loss, the Blast made quick work of the Crunch, which is in its own playoff battle, sitting one game behind Buffalo for the last playoff spot in the American Conference.

Just 1:23 into the first quarter, Lee Tschantret drilled a restart three-pointer and the Blast didn't trail the rest of the night.

Cleveland got a one-point shootout from Nikola Vignjevic late in the first period, but Tarik Walker gave the Blast a 5-1 halftime edge with a second-quarter goal.

The Blast put an end to any Cleveland hopes by outscoring the Crunch 11-2 in the third. Goals by Paul Wright, Mark Thomas, a three-pointer by Ronnie Simmons and two-pointers by Blast newcomer Giuliano Celenza and Danny Santoro were interupted only by a Cleveland two-pointer by Jimmy Tanner.

Up 16-3 after three, the Blast's other newcomer, David Vaudreuil, ended a 5-0 Cleveland run with a two-pointer for the final margin.

It was just the sixth time the Blast had held an opponent under 10 points in a game, all which have been victories.

Cleveland avoided its low-water mark of five with its five-point fourth quarter.

Blast goalkeeper Scott Hileman got the win with 18 saves of 37 Crunch shots, while Otto Orf suffered the loss in making 17 saves on 31.

"There was nothing positive in this one," said new Crunch coach George Fernandez, who took over the job two games back from the dismissed Bruce Miller.

"Now, we're down to six games," he said of the drive for the final conference playoff position.

Cleveland, which met Milwaukee in last year's NPSL final, will play Buffalo twice more, including the season finale at home against the Blizzard.

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