Blast comes out strong, but sinks in end, 16-12

Comets remain perfect at home as visitors fade for third straight loss


February 23, 2002|By Howard Richman | Howard Richman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - For 30 minutes last night, the Blast looked invincible. But instead of being homewreckers, the Blast just became another victim in Kansas City.

The six-point lead the Blast built didn't last. The Comets' dominance at home, though, continued as they improved to a perfect 12-0 on their grounds by rallying past the visitors, 16-12, in front of 3,566 at Kemper Arena.

The Blast, 13-15 and loser of three in a row, cut the Comets' lead to one point when newly acquired defender Iain Fraser scored at 6 minutes 55 seconds of the fourth quarter.

The Blast went to the sixth attacker with 2:32 remaining, but the move backfired when the Comets' Alex Zotinca nailed an empty-net three-pointer with 14 seconds left.

Kansas City, 15-12 and the winner of four in a row, rallied by using the three-point goal to its advantage. The Comets recorded three three-pointers in the second half, the first coming from Jeff Davis with 32 seconds left in the third quarter to narrow the visitors' lead to 10-7.

Comets All-Star forward Dino Delevski took care of the rest. His two rockets from three-point range put Kansas City ahead in the fourth quarter. They came 1:15 apart.

Too bad for the Blast the game lasted more than one half.

"We missed four breakaways in the second half," said the Blast's Lee Tschantret. "That can come back to haunt you. We hit five posts. You've got to finish. They did. I thought the effort was there by us. Actually, it was our best effort as far as consistency."

Comets coach Zoran Savic seemed to agree. "They [the Blast] really came out determined, a lot of intensity, played smart," Savic said. "They dropped back on us and didn't give us any room to run. The goal by Jeff [Davis, which cut the Blast's lead to 10-7] was the key. That gave us life back."

The visitors led 6-0 at halftime, receiving all of their points in the first quarter from players who have Kansas City ties.

Sean Bowers and Paul Wright, who played outdoor soccer for the Kansas City Wizards, along with former Kansas City indoor players Tschantret and Fraser, accounted for all of the Blast's points.

Fraser began his career with the Comets when they drafted him in 1986.

Bowers actually was the one who got it rolling for the Blast with a restart goal at 7:02 off an assist from Wright. Wright then scored on an assist from Bowers at 12:29. Only 36 seconds later, Tschantret's goal on Fraser's assist gave the Blast a cozy-looking lead. It wasn't cozy enough.

Blast goalkeeper Scott Hileman was superb in the first half, making several solid saves. In one second-quarter flurry, he went high to deny Delevski, then shortly thereafter made a diving save against Zotinca.

Among other things going the Blast's way: Lance Johnson was about to be penalized for a handball, but the officials determined it occurred after the horn had sounded to end the second quarter.

The loss dropped the Blast to 3-2 this season against the Comets and it fell to 4-9 on the road.

"Just a lot of little things win soccer games," said Bowers, "and we didn't do those things."

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