CLEVELAND - The Blast is in a new league, but one constant was proven yet again last night - it is tough to win on the road.
John Ball scored three goals and Hector Marinaro had one goal and four assists for the Cleveland Crunch in a 16-7 victory over the Blast at the Cleveland State University Convocation Center.
"We pride ourselves on winning on the road, too," Blast coach Kevin Healey said. "Cleveland played very well and we did not respond to the challenge."
Coming off a 9-6 home win over Kansas City the previous night, the Blast (2-1 in Major Indoor Soccer League) appeared sluggish from the outset. Cleveland (1-1) scored three straight goals early to take command and never looked back.
A power-play goal by Denison Cabral at 1:53 into the second half pulled the Blast within 10-7, but the Crunch quickly regained command on a restart goal by Giuliano Oliviero - assisted by Marinaro. Cleveland got four goals off restarts, three of them set by Marinaro, the all-time scoring leader in indoor soccer history.
"It was only two games, but up to tonight we had not given up any goals on restarts," Healey said. "We mapped it out at halftime, talked it over, and only gave up one in the second half."
Marinaro said the Crunch, despite losing its season opener, 7-2, last weekend in Kansas City, was confident its offense would come around.
"We weren't too worried," he said. "We know we have the weapons. It's just a matter of us coming together as a unit. We got good movement [on the restarts] and the guys did a good job of finishing."
First-year Crunch coach Mike Pilger was pleased with his club's defensive effort as well.
"We worked hard and our score could have been in the 20s, but we got a team effort on defense, too," Pilger said.
Ball got the last two goals - the final one into an empty net after Healey turned to a sixth attacker in the final minutes.
Winning goalkeeper Jim Larkin made 10 saves in his Cleveland debut. The veteran was acquired last month in a trade from Milwaukee. Blast goalkeeper Scott Hileman made 10 saves.
Defensive breakdowns cost the Blast in the first half. Cleveland scored three times on restarts and led 10-5 at halftime.
Marco Reda put the Crunch ahead 6:33 into the game by banging in a restart pass from Oliviero.
Just 20 seconds later, Derrick Marcano put the Blast ahead 3-2 when his mis-hit shot trickled past a diving Larkin. Marcano took a pass out of the corner by Sean Bowers, wheeled from just beyond the three-point arc and sent a weak shot that sneaked under Larkin.
Cleveland stormed to an 8-3 lead before Lee Tschantret converted the rebound of a shot by Paul Wright at 10:04 of the second quarter.
The Crunch got yet another restart goal, by defender Matt Caution, 3:03 before halftime to make it 10-5.
As the teams were leaving the field, Tschantret and Crunch defender Bill Sedgewick exchanged words. In the hallway leading to the locker rooms, Crunch coach Pilger and Tschantret got into a yelling match and had to be separated.
The clubs did not take the animosity onto the field in the second half, however.
"There really was nothing to it," Healey said. "Don't let that take away from a well-played game."
Blast 3 2 2 0 - 7
Crunch 6 4 4 2 - 16
First quarter: 1, Cleveland, Reda (Oliviero) 2 pt., 6:33; 2. Blast, Marcano (Bowers) 3 pt., 6:53; 3. Cleveland, Hinkey (Vasic) 2 pt., 8:53; 4. Cleveland, Ball (Marinaro)13:46. Penalties: None. Second quarter: 5. Cleveland, Marinaro (Kench), 2 pt., 8:38; 6. Blast, Tschantret (Wright) 2 pt., 10:04; 7. Cleveland, Caution (Marinaro) 2 pt., 11:57. Penalties: None. Third quarter: 8. Blast, Cabral (Wright) 2 pt., PP, 1:53; 9. Cleveland, Oliviero (Marinaro) 2 pt., 5:21; 10. Cleveland, Ball (Sedgewick) 2 pt., 8:19. Penalties: Cleveland, Caution (holding) 0:32; Blast, Tschantret (tripping) 11:33. Fourth quarter: 11. Cleveland, Ball (Marinaro) 2 pt., 12:08. Penalties: None. Shots on goal: Blast 7-8-5-7-27; Cleveland 6-9-9-6-30. Power-play opportunities: Blast 1-for-1, Cleveland 0-for-1. Goalkeepers: Blast: Hileman, 19 shots, 12 saves; Kelly, 1 shot, 0 saves; Cleveland: Larkin, 13 shots, 10 saves. A-5,960.