Blast, Dieter work out kinks

Defender to rescue

Crunch loses, 15-11

Soccer

November 22, 2001|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

For Blast defender Jason Dieter, who made his season debut on Saturday after knee operations in April and again last month, the plan was to ease back into things - a shift here, a shift there.

One particular spell, late in the pivotal third quarter last night, made all those days of rehab particularly worthwhile.

Dieter recorded his 300th career point to even the score with the visiting Cleveland Crunch and less than a minute later netted his second two-point goal to cap a 10-point third quarter and give the Blast its first lead. It was an advantage the home team would not surrender in coming away with a 15-11 victory in front of a sparse crowd of 2,393 at the Baltimore Arena.

The Blast, coming off a sluggish 19-8 loss Saturday to the Philadelphia KiXX, ended a two-game slide to improve to 4-4. The Crunch (2-5) lost its fourth straight.

Down 6-0 at the half largely because of a stellar performance from Cleveland veteran goalkeeper Otto Orf, the Blast stayed the course and found its way.

"This was truly a team effort," Dieter said. "Our backs were against the wall, but we stuck with the game plan and dug down deep to get a much-needed win."

Dieter's second goal gave the Blast a 10-8 lead with 1:29 left in the third quarter, but there was still plenty of work left. Denison Cabral converted on a power play early in the fourth quarter to make it 12-8.

And then after Cleveland's Bill Sedgewick hit a three-pointer to close to 12-11 with 7:58 left, Blast keeper Scott Hileman (14 saves) made the lead stand with consecutive saves on shots from Giuliano Oliviero. Lee Tschantret, strong throughout up front for the Blast, provided the sigh of relief with a three-point goal in the final minute with an extra attacker on for the Crunch.

"We played hard in the first half. Otto was making some great saves, and we're just in a scoring slump right now," said Blast coach Kevin Healey. "My talk for the second half was composure, confidence and communication. If we do that, we're going to score goals."

Cabral, Tschantret and Paul Wright scored the first three goals before Dieter went to work late in the third quarter, right where he needed to be in front to take a wall pass from Tarik Walker on the first goal and in front again with the good look coming from Danny Santoro after high pressure.

"The word I have for Jason Dieter is he is a winner," Healey said. "He goes out there, he's not fully recovered - just enough to play - but he knows the game and he's got the heart of the lion. Those were two huge goals."

The Crunch was supposed to be the not-so-lucky foe after the Blast's poor effort against Philadelphia, but it didn't happen that way.

The lethargic play that cost the Blast the last time continued in the first quarter - immediately.

Just eight seconds into play, John Ball, unmarked in front, had an easy far-post tap-in off a restart from Hector Marinaro for a 2-0 Crunch lead. Another free kick from Marinaro was finished off by Goran Vasic four minutes later, extending the advantage to 4-0 going into the second quarter.

While the Blast's work rate picked up in the second quarter, the goals didn't come because of Orf.

He turned back 11 shots in the 15 minutes before half, six from Tarik Walker that included three straight takes at the 12:25 mark that summed up the half.

The Crunch made it 6-0 late in the half when Oliviero finished off a ball sent in off the boards from Matt Caution.

NOTES: The Blast will get its second look at the Harrisburg Heat, its first on the road, at 7:35 p.m. Saturday. In the season opener in Baltimore on Oct. 20, the Blast got an overtime goal from Walker for a 12-10 win. ... Blast captain Lance Johnson, the franchise's all-time leader in games played, made his 300th career appearance.

Cleveland 4 2 2 3 - 11

Blast 0 0 10 5 - 15

First quarter: 1. Cleveland, Ball, 2 pt. (Marinaro), :08; 2. Cleveland, Vasic, 2 pt. (Marinaro), 10:48. Second quarter: 3. Cleveland, Oliviero, 2 pt., (Caution), 11:14. Penalties: Blast, (too many men), 1:48 Third quarter: 4. Blast, Cabral, 2 pt., (Wright), 1:08; 5. Blast, Tschantret, 2 pt., (Bowers), 3:22; 6. Blast, Wright, 2 pt. (Tschantret), 10:25; 7. Cleveland, Marinaro, 2 pt. (Vasic), pp., 12:24; 8. Blast, Dieter, 2 pt., (Walker), 12:34; 9. Blast, Dieter, 2 pt. (Santoro), 13:31. Penalties: Blast, Nelson, (tripping) 10:48. Fourth quarter: 10. Blast, Cabral, 2 pt., (Kelly), pp., 6:03; 11. Cleveland, Sedgewick, 3 pt., (Oliviero), pp., 8:02; 12. Blast, Tschantret, 3 pt., 14:15. Penalties: Blast, Johnson, (unsportsmanlike), 2:50; Cleveland, Hinkey, (double unsportsmanlike), 2:50; Blast, Hileman, (hand ball), 6:51 Shots on goal: Cleveland 5-7-10-12 - 34; Blast 4-15-11-11 - 41 Power-play opportunities: Cleveland 2--for-2; Blast 1--for-1. Shootout opportunities: Cleveland 0-for-1; Blast 0--for-0. Goalkeepers: Cleveland, Orf, 29 shots, 23 saves, Sedgewick, 1 shot, 0 saves; Blast, Hileman, 18 shots, 14 saves, Hymowitz, 2 shots, 1 save. A -- 2,393.

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