KiXX keeps the punchless Blast sputtering, 9-4

Philadelphia gets 9-0 lead in 1st half before 6,855

Soccer

March 02, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

A fragile bunch, the Blast is these days.

Any urgency that's expected after losing four straight games certainly wasn't apparent from the home team last night at Baltimore Arena. Any extra energy that comes with playing the disliked Philadelphia KiXX in front of a home crowd of 6,855 wasn't found early, either.

The Blast showed up too late, surrendering nine unanswered points in the first half, which was more than enough for the second-place KiXX to walk off with a much-too-easy 9-4 win.

The Blast, now 13-17 for the season, fell for the fifth straight time, a poor start the cause this time instead of its recent struggles to close out games.

Things don't get easier tonight, when a rested Milwaukee Wave team, first in the Major Indoor Soccer League, comes in for a 7:35 start.

Adversity for the Blast first arrived in the closing seconds of the first quarter, when KiXX defender Jim Hesch turned a giveaway into a three-point goal with six seconds left.

The Blast responded with a hapless second quarter that yielded two-pointers by Joel Shanker, Gary DePalma and Joe Scigliano, giving the KiXX a 9-0 lead that would stand for most of the third quarter.

"I just think the second quarter goes back to confidence," said Blast coach Kevin Healey. "We gave up a goal at the end of the first quarter, and then we put our heads down in that second quarter. You can't do that - you've got to play four quarters in this game, and they made us pay."

The Blast finally got some offense with 1:45 left in the third quarter, when Billy Nelson finished a ball off the boards from Tarik Walker to cut the lead to 9-2, but the KiXX, comfortably sitting back with the lead, only allowed one more goal, a two-pointer from Lee Tschantret in the middle of the fourth quarter.

"We're in a bad stretch right now, struggling," said Blast captain Lance Johnson. "We're looking around at ourselves and wondering what's going on, because we're looking for answers a little bit. It's nobody's fault but our own. We just need to regroup and stay together as a team. Nobody is going to dig ourselves out of this but us."

Healey defended his team.

"We're going to stick together through this and I'm not going to be critical of any of my players in the paper. What I need to say will be said in the locker room and we're going to leave it there."

Philadelphia 3 6 0 0 - 9

Blast 0 0 2 2 - 4

First quarter - 1. Philadelphia, Hesch, 3 pt., 14:54. Penalties - none. Second quarter - 2. Philadelphia, Shanker, 2 pt., (Hesch), :53; 3. Philadelphia, DePalma, 2pt., (Pappas), 1:30; 4. Philadelphia, Scigliano, 2 pt., (D'Ambra), 13:21. Penalties - none. Third quarter - 5. Blast, Nelson, 2 pt., (Walker), 13:15. Penalties - none. Fourth quarter - 6. Blast, Tschantret, 2 pt., (Celenza), 7:14. Penalties -none. Shots on goal - Philadelphia 11-13-5-3 - 32; Blast 5-4-6-7 - 22. Power-play opportunities - Philadelphia 0-for-0; Blast 0-for-0. Goalkeepers - Philadelphia, Pappas, 13 shots, 11 saves; Blast, Hileman, 22 shots, 18 saves, Wright, 1 shot, 1 save. A - 6,855.

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