Dieter's injury latest downer for Blast

No coincidence torn ACL precedes yet another loss

NPSL notebook


March 28, 2001|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The injury-marred Blast took its biggest hit over the weekend when news came down that defender Jason Dieter was lost for the season.

The eight-year veteran tore his anterior cruciate ligament in Saturday's loss to Cleveland and will have surgery to repair the knee in two weeks.

Equaling his career high with 48 points and leading the team in blocks with 80, Dieter was enjoying his finest season as a pro, providing Blast coach Kevin Healey with stellar play at both ends.

Healthy and seemingly back on track after a solid, 22-16 win in Milwaukee on March 17, the Blast was hit by a second wave of injuries shortly after. Three straight losses followed.

Forward Mark Thomas (foot) will be back this weekend, when the Blast closes out the regular season Friday in Harrisburg and Saturday in Philadelphia. Defender Derrick Marcano (Achilles) remains day-to-day and midfielder Danny Kelly (groin) likely will sit out to be ready for the playoffs.

"We have to get back to playing good, sound defense, holding the score down and believing we'll get our points," Healey said.

"That's how the wins came earlier in the year, and that's what we have to get back to."

Coming into focus

The Harrisburg Heat went from worst (16-28 last season) to first (currently 24-15) in the American Conference, and the defending league-champion Milwaukee Wave has overcome a slow start (2-7) to stake a claim to the top spot in theNational Conference.

The playoff picture got a bit clearer over the weekend, with those two teams assuring themselves the top seedings in their respective conferences and four others - Philadelphia and the Blast in the American Conference, Toronto and Wichita in the National - securing postseason appearances.

With one week remaining in the 40-game regular season, Buffalo (19-18) has a 1 1/2 -game lead on last-place Cleveland (18-20) for the fourth and final playoff spot in the American. The teams will meet in Cleveland on Saturday.

Over in the National Conference, the Detroit Rockers (13-24) moved one-half game in front of Kansas City (13-25) for the last spot.

Best of the week

Cleveland forward Hector Marinaro piled up 17 points in three games and Philadelphia KiXX goalkeeper Peter Pappas went 3-0 to capture Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week honors.

At 36, Marinaro shows no signs of slowing down. After a six-point effort in the Crunch's 16-15 win in Baltimore on Saturday night, he went to Detroit the next afternoon and registered 10 points (three-point goal, two two-pointers, three assists) in a 17-13 loss.

With a league-leading 160 points, Marinaro has all but assured himself of his eighth scoring title in nine years. He has a 21-point lead over Harrisburg's Gino DiFlorio.

Pappas (21-14 for the season) had a stingy, 9.74 points-against average in leading the KiXX to three straight wins in the past week.

He stopped 13 of 16 shots in a 24-8 win over Toronto on Thursday that ended the KiXX's three-game slide. He recorded 20 more saves in wins over Kansas City and the Blast over the weekend.

One for the books

In racking up a team-high 126 points this season, Blast midfielder Denison Cabral has put the ball in the net 66 times, but none of those goals was more special than his second-quarter finish in Sunday's 20-15 loss to Philadelphia.

Cabral's bicycle kick from the right side of the box, quickly finding the upper right corner, was as good as it gets.

After the game, he said he wasn't fully able to appreciate the fantastic goal.

"It's sad because I would have liked to save the video and say we won the game, I had a bicycle kick and we played well, but that's not what happened," he said. "That was a good finish, but it doesn't make it any better because I hate to lose."

Trade of the season?

Since the Rockers aquired veteran forward Domenic Mobilio from Philadelphia for Shawn Boney on Feb. 20, they have gone 8-5. Mobilio has 51 points in the span, including 24 goals.

Et cetera

Philadelphia has enjoyed its home away from home this season, going 5-0 when playing at Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, N.J. ... Harrisburg goalkeeper Doug Petras set a franchise mark with his 23rd win of the season on Saturday, a 14-12 overtime victory over Buffalo.

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