Blast stays on downhill course: 13-10 loss

Another defeat by Heat keeps home team from widening 4th-place lead


March 25, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

A chance to save face and gain some distance in the Major Indoor Soccer League standings wasn't enough incentive for the enigmatic Blast yesterday against the last-place Harrisburg Heat.

While the effort may have been there for the home team at Baltimore Arena, the goals remained elusive and frustration remained.

Fifty-two shots from the Blast couldn't keep the team from suffering its second loss in as many days to the Heat, this time by a 13-10 count before 3,256 fans.

The Blast fell to 15-22, still holding onto the fourth and final playoff spot by 2 1/2 games after the fifth-place Cleveland Crunch lost to Kansas City for the second time in two days.

"We laid it all out on the line today," said Blast coach Kevin Healey. "In my viewpoint, we were the most unfortunate team I have seen in a long time. I thought we dominated possession of the game, but we hit poles left, hit poles right. We were doing things we wanted to do and it just wasn't happening for us."

So now what?

The Blast didn't show up for the first half in its 22-13 loss in Harrisburg Saturday night. Though the team came to work on time yesterday afternoon, it still couldn't find a way to beat a Heat team (10-29) that was eliminated from the playoffs on Friday and hadn't won consecutive games since late November.

"For this to happen, it's discouraging because it seems like when we're doing things right, one little thing bites us in the [behind]," said Blast captain Lance Johnson. "I have to change some things, other guys have to change some things and we have to make it happen. We have to realize nobody is going to do it but us."

Yesterday's little thing came with six minutes left in the third quarter and the score tied at 8. Blast defender Dewan Bader was sent off for tripping and, less than a minute later, Johnson was called for elbowing to give the Heat a two-man advantage that resulted in a three-point goal from veteran Zoran Karic and an 11-8 lead the visitors would not relinquish.

Nick Cornelli made it 13-8 later in the third quarter and then Heat keeper Doug Petras (29 saves) and a handful of defenders accounted for 20 blocks, which would keep the Blast frustrated the rest of the way. Tarik Walker did get a goal with 6:02 left, but that was it.

While the Blast's work rate has often been questioned in this more down than up season, midfielder Paul Wright found somewhere else to look.

"I don't think it's necessarily the work rate that's our problem because when we work hard - like we did today - we still lose," he said. "I think it's a lack of ability and a lack of finesse and we need to re-evaluate how good we really are. When you work hard and still lose, there's a problem."

The Blast has seven games to figure things out, starting here on Friday against Kansas City.

"We got to step it up," said midfielder Danny Santoro. "We talk and talk and talk about it and half the guys are saying why do we talk about things because half the time we talk about something and we don't go out and do it.

"The important thing is, yeah, talk about it, but everybody individually has to look at themselves and do whatever they have to do to be ready to play."

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