Reeling Crunch next up for Blast

Goalie Hileman chosen as defender of week

MISL notebook


January 18, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The last-place Cleveland Crunch, getting a visit from the Blast tomorrow night, lost three games in three days last weekend, running its losing streak to seven.

Still, a positive impression was left with Blast coach Kevin Healey.

"I got their tape playing Milwaukee [an 18-8 loss on Sunday] - it was their third game in three days, and they were still playing hard the whole game," Healey said. "They've been in games but haven't been able to pull through at the end. This is their only game this weekend, at home, and they're going to come in with a lot of intensity. We'll have to match that."

Tomorrow night's game will mark the Blast debut of midfielder Henry Gutierrez, who was signed on Wednesday and will play a regular shift rotating with Denison Cabral and Giuliano Celenza.

Having last played in October with his A-League outdoor team, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Gutierrez is planning to rely on his new teammates while he gets fit and readjusts to the indoor game, expecting his biggest contribution to come later.

"It's a good fit. I think I came to a place where these guys are going to help me out," he said. "I'm going to try to help them out as much as I can and then make my peak at the playoffs, when we really need to get going."

The Crunch (4-15) will get a boost with the addition of veteran defender Andy Schmetzer, who signed a 15-day contract effective tomorrow. He retired at the start of this season after nine seasons with Cleveland, having posted 32 points last year.

The Blast (10-9) has won four of five, including three straight on the road.

Hileman tops on defense

The only goalkeeper in the league to start every game this season, Blast veteran Scott Hileman made the most of his time in goal over the weekend, posting back-to-back wins over the Harrisburg Heat to earn Defensive Player of the Week honors.

After a 13-7 win in Baltimore on Saturday night, Hileman came back on Sunday and took the fight out of the Heat early in its home building, making eight first-quarter saves on his way to 18, to lead the Blast to an 18-4 win.

His 1,122 minutes played, 271 saves and .732 save percentage are all tops in the league.

Kansas City forward Dino Delevski was the top offensive player, leading the Comets to a 2-0 week with three three-point goals, two two-point goals and one assist for 14 points. He enjoyed a seven-point night in a 16-8 victory that ended the Wave's eight-game winning streak Saturday.

For a second straight week, Blast midfielder Paul Wright was recognized as an honorable mention. In Saturday's win over the Heat, he had eight points, including a three-point goal and a two-pointer in a game-changing stretch in the third quarter.

Close calls

A half game separates the Wave (14-5) and Philadelphia KiXX (13-5) atop the MISL standings, and the individual scoring race is just as tight, with two points separating the top three.

Cleveland's Hector Marinaro, who won eight of the last nine scoring titles in the National Professional Soccer League, is at the top with 73 points. Milwaukee's Joe Reiniger is next with 72, and Delevski has 71. Averaging four points a game, Reiniger has been the most productive of the three .

Around the boards

Saturday's crowd of 8,091 propelled the Blast to the top of the league in attendance at 5,458 a game for 10 home games. ... Philadelphia, the only team with a winning road record (4-2), plays seven of its next eight games away, starting tonight in Kansas City.

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