Healed Blast hopes recovery extends to field

Kelly, Nogueira take weekly league honors

MISL notebook


January 04, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The Blast started last season with seven straight wins, got its first road win in early November and was 10-3 when the calender-year turned.

This season, the team is 7-8 entering the 2002 portion of the schedule, having started 2-0 but unable to put together back-to-back wins since, with its first road victory not coming until last weekend at Harrisburg.

All and all, it might not be a bad thing.

The Blast is hoping that injuries, plentiful from the outset, have come and gone with only one player, midfielder Danny Barber (ankle), expected to miss tonight's home game against the Philadelphia KiXX.

The team also believes an offensive dry spell has passed with three straight games of 20 or more points.

Most important?

"It's made us look at what we're all doing a little bit harder and address concerns at this point, so hopefully, that will help us in the 2002 portion of the schedule," said Blast coach Kevin Healey.

And what better way to open the new year than a home-and-home series against the KiXX? That team, tied with the Milwaukee Wave for first place with 11-4 marks, has been the Blast's nemesis.

Midfielder Denison Cabral is confident that the Blast's 22-12 victory at Harrisburg on Saturday will carry over.

"I feel like that was it - we just needed that big win away in Harrisburg and now things are going to roll our way," he said. "The confidence is back. We're scoring a lot of goals because we're working hard. Defenders are scoring, midfielders are scoring, forwards are scoring. The team is scoring goals; it's not just one or two guys."

After tonight's 7:35 game at the Baltimore Arena, the Blast will travel Sunday to Philadelphia for a 5:05 p.m. contest that will be televised on CN8, available to Comcast cable subscribers in Baltimore City and Baltimore, Harford and Howard counties.

Kelly, Nogueira honored

Healthy from a broken foot dating to the end of last season, Blast midfielder Danny Kelly has been making up for lost time in recent weeks.

On Saturday in Harrisburg, he scored one three-point goal, two two-pointers and had three assists for a season-high 10 points in the Blast's win, earning Offensive Player of the Week honors.

The 10-year veteran has 25 points this season, 17 in his two most recent games. He had seven points in a loss to Kansas City the previous weekend.

At 42, Milwaukee Wave goalkeeper Victor Nogueira is showing no signs of letting up or letting anything by him. The 10-year veteran turned away nine of 12 Harrisburg Heat shots in a 17-7 win on Monday to take Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Nogueira's 9-2 mark ties him for most wins in the league, and he ranks second with a 10.25 points-against average.

Around the boards

Tickets for the 2002 MISL All-Star Weekend, Feb. 15-17 in Cleveland, are on sale. Information: MISL at 203-222-4900 or the Cleveland Crunch at 216-896-1140 ... Blast forward Tarik Walker recorded his 200th career two-point goal, and Cabral registered his 150th two-pointer in his 150th career game in the team's win at Harrisburg.

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