Wright's 5-point blitz cools off Heat, 13-7

Midfielder helps Blast win 2nd in row, reach .500


January 13, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

It often comes in a flash from Blast midfielder Paul Wright and last night he chose the latter stages of the third quarter to leave his mark.

A three-point goal and nifty header made up a swift, game-changing five-point Wright burst that sent the Blast to a 13-7 win over the Harrisburg Heat before 8,091 - the second-largest crowd at Baltimore Arena this season.

The victory moves the Blast to .500 on the season at 9-9 and marks its first two-game winning streak since opening the season at 2-0. The team will try to make it three in a row tonight when it travels to Harrisburg, which lost its third straight to fall to 6-11 on the season.

Today's trip up I-83 was what had Blast coach Kevin Healey's attention following last night's game.

"Now we have to focus on [tonight's] game. We've got to take it one game at a time and we still have some work to do to get where we want to be, but we're playing better soccer," he said. "We completed half the job this weekend; the complete job comes tomorrow and they're going to be a tough team to beat. They had two weeks off, they got a good team and you know they're not going to want to throw two games out the window."

Wright, who ranks fourth in the Major Indoor Soccer League with 18 assists, is not thinking to pass first much these days and that's just fine for the Blast. After a four-goal, 11-point performance in a 20-10 win in Philadelphia last weekend, he put in three more last night and added an assist to total eight points in taking over the team lead in scoring with 53 points.

"Paul's a great player and he has the ability to be even the top player in the league," Healey said. "Those type of consistent efforts - multiple great games in a row and coming up big at critical times - it doesn't make you the best player in the league, but it puts you in that set of players and that's what he is starting to do."

Sean Bowers and Tarik Walker each scored three-point goals, Denison Cabral and Lee Tschantret each provided two assists and it was more than enough for keeper Scott Hileman, who blanked the Heat in the fourth quarter and finished with 11 saves.

The Blast took a 5-0 lead in the opening three minutes of the game, but its offense wasn't heard from again until the Heat had taken a 7-5 lead on David Bascome's second goal of the game four minutes into the third quarter.

Enter Wright.

He took a pass from Cabral on the left side and finished off a three-point chance that got through traffic in front of Heat keeper Doug Petras for an 8-7 lead with 5:17 left. Two minutes later, he connected again with Cabral, snapping a header from in front for a 10-7 lead.

The Heat, which came into the game averaging a league-low 9.6 points per game, wasn't heard from the rest of the way with Walker's three-pointer the only scoring in the fourth quarter.

"They came back like we knew they would. They had a couple weeks off so we knew they would be fresh, so we had to dig down deep to get the win," Wright said. "It was a good team effort, we showed a lot of composure in the fourth quarter and it's good to see. I was telling Denison the last couple games, let's just look for each other and let's try to get this thing on the right track."

It started out easy for the Blast. Maybe a little too easy.

Wright scored 1:48 into the game, putting away a rebound off a short from Tschantret for a 2-0 lead and Bowers added a three-point goal from the top of the scoring arc one minute later, a restart with Tschantret adding another assist, for a 5-0 lead.

But the Heat defense settled in and its offense was able to match the Blast effort to get the game tied at 5 going into the halftime break.

The visitors' only primary scoring threats did the damage. Bascome ran onto a through ball sent from Lester Felician to cut the Blast lead to 5-2 with 3:04 left in the first quarter and then Felician did it on his own early in the second quarter, finding the far post for a three-pointer from the right side.

Harrisburg 2 3 2 0 - 7

Blast 5 0 5 3 - 13

First quarter: 1. Blast, Wright, 2 pt. (Tschantret), 1:48; 2. Blast, Bowers, 3 pt., (Tschantret), 2:25; 3. Harrisburg, Bascome, 2 pt., (Felician), 11:56. Second quarter: 4. Harrisburg, Felician, 3 pt., (Dunn), 4:04. Penalties: Blast, Bowers, (pushing), 14:53; Harrisburg, Feniger, (pushing), 14:53. Third quarter: 5. Harrisburg, Bascome, 2 pt., (Felician), 3:54; 6. Blast, Wright, 3 pt., (Celenza), 9:43; 7. Blast, Wright, 2 pt., (Cabral), 11:36. Penalties: Harrisburg, Regis, (tripping), 11:55. Fourth quarter: 8. Blast, Walker, 3 pt. (Wright), 10:31 . Penalties: Blast, Nelson, (holding), 3:09; Harrisburg, Felician, (kicking), 9:42; Blast, Cabral, (pushing), 9:42. Shots on goal: Harrisburg 5-6-6-10-27; Blast 7-8-10-6-31. Power-play opportunities: Harrisburg 0-for-1; Blast 0-for-1. Shootout opportunities: Harrisburg 0-for-0; Blast 0-for-0. Goalkeepers: Harrisburg, Petras, 21 shots, 16 saves; Blast, Hileman, 14 shots, 11 saves. A--8,091.

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