With Blast offense stuck in neutral, Healey will be tinkering for points

MISL notebook

For first time in 4 years, goal-scoring is problem

goals galore in Nashville

Soccer

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

Putting the ball in the net had never been an issue for the Blast in coach Kevin Healey's previous three years.

The sources have always been plentiful, from a powerful front line to quick and creative midfielders to defenders capable of jumping in the offensive flow.

This season, goal production is no longer taken for granted.

"What we're working on this week is really something I didn't think we'd ever have to work on, because, in four years, it's never been a problem - and that's scoring goals," Healey said.

In its 4-5 start, the Blast has totaled just 89 points and has scored under double digits in five games. In 40 regular-season games last season, the team was under 10 points only six times.

So the focus in practice this week as it prepares for a visit from the Milwaukee Wave on Saturday is finishing.

In the beginning of the season, Healey said his team wasn't swarming around inside the box enough. That has improved, but once there, players have been a touch off.

Midfielder Denison Cabral leads the team with 27 points and after Paul Wright (23 points) and Lee Tschantret (16 in six games), there has been sporadic support.

"Guys who have scored goals before aren't scoring, and right now it's just a matter of them fighting themselves a little bit. I don't think it's their game going down, just the confidence level," Healey said. "I just think if we continue to go over finishing in practice, it will become habit forming and we'll build confidence. Then we'll go into these games saying, `OK, we worked on that situation and we'll finish these chances.' "

Healey is planning on just minor adjustments to try to shake things up. Giuliano Celenza will move from forward to midfield, trading spots with Danny Santoro. Tschantret and Tarik Walker remain the primary runners up front, with Derrick Marcano also receiving time there.

Fireworks in Nashville

In the new MISL's first neutral-site game, a crowd of 3,438 at Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Center Saturday was treated to an offensive show by the Wave and Kansas City Comets.

The fourth quarter alone in Milwaukee's 27-16 win featured eight goals for 16 points with 32 shots.

Nashville, a prime candidate for the league's anticipated expansion next year, will be the host of a second neutral-site game on Feb. 9, when the Blast takes on the Philadelphia KiXX.

Reiniger, Petras honored

Milwaukee forward Joe Reiniger went for the indoor soccer cycle and Harrisburg goalkeeper Doug Petras won three games in four days to earn Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week honors, respectively.

In the Wave's 27-16 win over Kansas City, Reiniger led the offensive barrage with one three-point goal, one two-point goal, one one-point goal and four assists to finish with 11 points. The nine-year veteran, who has scored in 81 consecutive games, is tied for fourth in the MISL in scoring with 25 points this season.

Petras opened his week on Wednesday night with a sparkling 26-save performance in a 9-2 win over previously undefeated Philadelphia and then had wins against Cleveland and the Blast during the weekend to lower his league-leading points-against average to 8.65 for the season.

Blast keeper Scott Hileman earned honorable mention after going 1-1 for the week with a 8.74 points-against average.

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