Flat Blast falls to Crunch again, 13-9

Hosts upset to lose 2nd in row to last-place team


January 26, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

At home and up against the last-place team that left a stinging impression with a last-minute win the week before, the Blast would have been expected to give an inspired effort.

It didn't come last night.

Not even close.

When at times it looked as if the home team didn't have enough players on the field, it was a "too many men" infraction midway through the fourth quarter that proved costly in the end against the Cleveland Crunch.

Goran Vasic converted the one-point shootout goal that broke a tie and the lead held as the Crunch left a 13-9 winner over the Blast before 4,052 at the Baltimore Arena.

One game away from the midway point of the Major Indoor Soccer League's regular season, the Blast still has no consistency.

The team took a four-game winning streak into Cleveland last week and dropped a 24-22 decision in the last minute. Now, it's two straight losses for the Blast, 10-11 with a chance for an unexpected reprieve tonight with the Kansas City Comets coming into town.

"It's frustrating because we know what we can do, but we haven't really proven anything yet to anybody," Blast defender Sean Bowers said. "And that's the most frustrating thing, when we walk on the field it's all about confidence. Tonight should have been about confidence and balance - that didn't happen."

Trailing 9-7 at the break, the Blast got even in the third quarter when Tarik Walker scored with 8:56 left, but that was it from the offense the rest of the way.

The Crunch, which has won two straight from the Blast after seven straight losses, is 6-15. Half its wins have come vs. the Blast.

The visitors sagged defensively, had more possession time and when their chances came, were sure to take advantage.

Vasic made no mistake finding the lower left corner on the shootout and then Hector Marinaro, who finished with three goals and an assist for eight points, left no doubt with an open-net three-pointer with an extra attacker on for the Blast is the final minute.

"They're a professional team, they're a good team and there's not that much difference between all the teams in the league, but we talked about not coming in thinking we're going to win. We said we had to go out and work hard and get the feeling back we had going into last week. We didn't get it done," Blast coach Kevin Healey said.

"It's crazy, and once again I thought we didn't have enough energy. Who knows? Who knows?"

The Blast got off to an inauspicious start when Vasic's shot was misplayed in front by Bowers for an own goal and a 3-0 Crunch lead.

Bowers was quick to make amends, accounting for the Blast's first five points and a 5-3 lead.

The Crunch, a little more energetic and opportunistic, went on to score the next six points - including two two-point goals from Marinaro - to build a 9-5 lead before Blast midfielder Denison Cabral closed out the first-half scoring with a top-shelf two-pointer to cut the deficit to 9-7.

Cleveland 5 4 0 4 - 13

Blast 5 2 2 0 - 9

First quarter: 1. Cleveland, Vasic, 3 pt., 2:17; 2. Blast, Bowers, 3 pt., (Tschantret), 7:22; 3. Blast, Bowers, 2 pt., 11:25; 4. Cleveland, Marinaro, 2 pt., (Pizzolitto), 12:46.

Second quarter: 5. Cleveland, Marinaro, 2 pt., (Suarez), 2:03; 6. Cleveland, Ball, 2 pt., (Marinaro), 6:27; 7. Blast, Cabral, 2 pt., (Nelson), 8:15.

Third quarter: 8. Blast, Walker, 2 pt., (Wright), 8:56. Penalties: Cleveland, Sedgewick, (five-minute misconduct), 7:55.

Fourth quarter: 9. Cleveland, Vasic, 1 pt., 6:39; 10. Cleveland, Marinaro, 3 pt., 14:20. Penalties: Blast, (too many men), 6:40.

Shots on goal: Cleveland: 8-7-6-10-31 ; Blast: 6-4-8-5-23. Power-play opportunities: Cleveland 0-for-0; Blast 0-for-0. Shootout opportunities: Cleveland 1-for-1; Blast 0-for-1. Goalkeepers: Cleveland, Orf, 13 shots, 9 saves; Blast, Hileman, 22 shots, 17 saves, Wright, 2 shots, 1 save. A: 4,052.

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