Blast focuses on winning 2 in row, plus

Hurting Heat provides shot at building streak

Soccer

January 12, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Lose. Win. Lose. Win. Lose. Win.

It's a consistent pattern, but not the kind the Blast is looking to continue.

"It's unbelievable," said defender Dewan Bader. "With the talent and veterans we have here, I would have thought we would have put together a couple four- or five-game winning streaks by now."

It hasn't happened.

Since opening the season at 2-0, the Blast hasn't been able to string together two straight victories let alone four or five -- each potential breakthrough win followed by a puzzling loss.

So at 8-9 but coming off a strong 20-10 win in Philadelphia last Sunday, the Blast has yet another chance. It's a golden one to make it win, win and possibly more with a home-and-home series against the injury-riddled Harrisburg Heat (6-10), starting tonight at Baltimore Arena.

"We have a home game to start with where we can get to .500, and then we go and play the next day where both teams will be on some weary legs, so we're on equal ground there," said forward Lee Tschantret.

"To be honest with you, I'm not looking past [tonight], and I think that's the way we have to approach things. We have tended to look ahead a little bit too much, maybe toward the end of the season, the playoffs and stuff like that. And you can get yourself in trouble that way. We have to take it one game at a time and go from there."

The Blast has taken two of three from the Heat, including a thorough 22-12 win in Harrisburg on Dec. 29. While the Blast has gone through its share of injuries, mostly nagging ones, the Heat has had more with greater impacts, beginning with the loss of forward Gino DiFlorio.

Last year's Most Valuable Player is likely out for the season following knee surgery, and the Heat offense hasn't been the same without him. David Bascome is the only player in the top 20 in scoring -- 14th with 34 points -- and the team is last in the league in offense, averaging 9.6 points a game. A positive is the possible return of forward Lester Felician, who's also recovering from a knee injury.

"Gino is one of the best finishers in the league, and he's also a good passer, so he's really a double threat," said Tschantret. "So that's a lot of their offense you don't have to worry about, which helps out a lot. But they have other players, and Harrisburg always poses the threat of a great work rate. They win a lot of games by just outworking people."

The Blast has had momentum stall all season, most recently after the last win against the Heat -- its first road win of the season. What followed was a 17-12 loss to the KiXX at home last Friday night, which prompted coach Kevin Healey to make some late night/early morning post-game phone calls to set up a next-day meeting.

"I just thought it was necessary," he said. "It started out as a filming session to point out some things, but then it got into some things that needed to be said. I think it helped us."

It helped toward the impressive rematch win over the KiXX on Sunday, but here we are again.

"The problem is we've done this a few times this year," said Bader. "We had the big win against Milwaukee, and you think it's going to turn. So until you get back on the field again, you don't really know."

Following the two games against Harrisburg, it's two straight against the last-place Cleveland Crunch (4-12) and then a game against the fourth-place Kansas City Comets (7-10) for the Blast.

Tschantret says it all comes down to details.

"Doing the little things is what it comes down to -- following your man, making the pass when it's there, making a block. ... We need to get that game in and game out," he said. "I don't understand how you can't bring the same level of intensity and the same level of concentration game in and game out. Until we start doing that, we're going to have problems."

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