Focused Blast pins 16-12 loss on Comets

Dieter seems a picture of health in 300th game


January 27, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The home team was up against it: injuries, illnesses, a dangerous Kansas City team and its own insecurities.

And while it wasn't an effort in which everything went right, the Blast always found a response and, most importantly, showed 60 minutes of purposeful play as it left with a 16-12 victory over the Comets last night before 4,401 at Baltimore Arena.

Defender Jason Dieter, still not playing on a regular basis after knee surgery, became the second player in franchise history to play in 300 games and, in doing so, scored two second-quarter goals for five points to provide the Blast with a 7-2 halftime lead.

The third-quarter answers came quicker than the questions after the Comets scored three times in trying to get back into the game.

Tarik Walker (two goals) scored for the Blast eight seconds after one goal; newcomer Henry Gutierrez (two goals) scored six seconds after another and Sean Bowers scored 19 seconds after the third -- a three-pointer that gave the Blast a 16-8 lead going into the fourth quarter.

A final push came from the Comets when they cut the lead to 16-12 with 3:33 left, but it stayed that way as Lee Tschantret -- the catalyst throughout -- blocked one shot and Dieter fell in front of another.

After a disheartening loss to the last-place Cleveland Crunch just 24 hours earlier, the Blast's yo-yo of a season went back up some despite Danny Kelly and Denison Cabral both playing with viruses, Danny Santoro (concussion symptoms) out at the start, and Paul Wright and Giuliano Celenza out at the end with injuries.

The Blast (11-11) jumped in front of the Comets (11-12) for third place in the Major Indoor Soccer League, three games behind the second-place Philadelphia KiXX (14-8).

"We have the virus going through our team and we had all kinds of injuries, so we showed a lot of guts," said Blast coach Kevin Healey.

"We wanted to go 2-0 this weekend without a doubt, but I'm proud of the guys and how they responded tonight under tough conditions, which fans aren't necessarily going to know about because you don't want the world to know about it."

Tschantret, whose endless hard work highlighted the Blast's effort, said he hopes the trend can continue.

"I think I fed off a little energy today. I try to have a consistent work rate and, if we all have that, we actually have to work less," Tschantret said.

"When everyone is working, you actually work less because you're working as a unit. I think that was the difference today -- everybody put it in today."

Kelly, sitting nearby, was quick to add, "Good point, good point."

Healey moved Gutierrez from midfield to the target position and it paid immediate dividends as he scored his first goal with the Blast.

Taking a pass in the corner from Kelly off a restart 3:43 into play, Gutierrez quickly sent a crisp ball through the area that bounced off a Comets defender and in for an own goal and 2-0 Blast lead.

After the Comets tied the score on Dorin Zotinca's perfectly placed shot to the upper far post later in the first quarter, it was all Dieter the rest of the half.

Dieter first finished off a nifty give-and-go connection with Kelly midway through the second quarter, then hit a three-pointer from the top of the scoring arc with 1:58 for a 7-2 halftime lead.

NOTE: Midfielder Denison Cabral celebrated his 28th birthday last night, bringing his infant daughter, Daniela, out with him for pre-game introductions.

Kansas City 2 0 6 4 -- 12

Blast 2 5 9 0 -- 16

First quarter: 1. Blast, Gutierrez, 2 pt., 3:43; 2. Kansas City, D. Zotinca, 2 pt., (A. Zotinca), 10:37.

Second quarter: 3. Blast, Dieter, 2 pt., (Kelly), 7:34; 4. Blast, Dieter, 3 pt., (Neely), 13:02.

Third quarter: 5. Kansas City, A. Zotinca, 2 pt., (Wade), 5:22; 6. Blast, Walker, 2 pt., 5:30; 7. Blast, Walker, 2 pt., 7:11; 8. Kansas City, Delevski, 2 pt., 11:18; 9. Blast, Gutierrez, 2 pt., (Bowers), 11:24; 10. Kansas City, Hunjak, 2 pt., (Cyrus), 12:39; 11. Blast, Bowers, 3 pt., (Celenza), 12:58. Penalties: Kansas City, (too many men), 6:28.

Fourth quarter: 12. Kansas City, Hunjak, 2 pt., (Dzilic), 2:33; 13. Kansas City, A. Zotinca, 2 pt., (Bowes), 11:27.

Shots on goal: Kansas City 5-5-9-13 -- 32; Blast 10-5-5-4 -- 28. Power-play opportunities: Kansas City 0-for-0; Blast 0-for-0. Shootout opportunities: Kansas City 0-for-0; Blast 0-for-1. Goalkeepers: Kansas City, Damico, 19 shots, 13 saves, Bowes, 4 shots, 3 saves; Blast, Hileman, 20 shots, 14 saves. A--4,401.

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