Nelson hit with Blast in 1st year on stage

MISL notebook

Rookie out of UMBC `seized the moment'

March 28, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Though it was in late October, Blast rookie defender Billy Nelson remembers his first game as if it were yesterday.

The Kansas City Comets, tomorrow night's opponent at Baltimore Arena, were in town, and Nelson's opening assignment was marking All-Star forward Wes Wade.

"It was a lot of pressure, just because it was my first game playing against a very good team, and then going up against a veteran like Wes, it was like, `How am I going to shut him down?' said Nelson.

"After the first couple of shifts and once I got in the flow of the game, I started feeling like I could defend anybody as long as I'm confident."

Nelson, a Bel Air grad and former UMBC standout, has stayed confident, and his quicker-than-expected development has been a pleasant surprise in a Blast season that has had more disappointments than positives.

"When he got his opportunity this year, he really just seized the moment," said Blast coach Kevin Healey.

"He's playing to his strength - he's strong, tackles well, rarely loses the ball because he now understands where he is on the field. And lately, he's become a bit of an enforcer for us, which is good to see because we need some good young defenders coming in ready to knock heads."

Appearing in 35 games for the Blast (15-22), with 17 points, Nelson looks like a sure bet to make the MISL All-Rookie team and also to be considered for Rookie of the Year honors.

"I'm definitely happy with the way things have gone for myself and I think I've played myself into a pretty good spot," he said. "I just have to keep doing it - be consistent with my game and keep working hard."

Cabral's new shoes

Blast midfielder Denison Cabral is working with Brazil's top soccer-shoe manufacturer, Dalponte, on a new line of indoor shoes to be named Denison 5.

The native of Florianopolis, Brazil, is testing samples and may have found a winner Friday, when he posted 10 points in the Blast's 19-11 win over Philadelphia.

"I left a message with the owner saying I was going to wear the shoes for the weekend, and all of a sudden, I score 10 points on Friday. I talked to him after, and he said, `I guess the shoes are working,' " said Cabral, who leads the Blast with 107 points.

Cabral's older brother, Davis, a coach in Brazil, approached the shoe company with the idea. Denison sent tapes of himself playing, along with information about the Blast and the MISL.

Dalponte, which sponsors the Brazilian national futsal team, is looking to complete a line of indoor, running and turf shoes that would include Cabral's autograph line. Once the line is complete, Cabal said the shoes will be available in Maryland.

New scoring champ?

With a 25-point burst in three games last week, Kansas City forward Dino Delevski - named the Offensive Player of the Week - took over the league scoring lead with 171 points.

Seeing a name at the top of the list other than that of longtime Cleveland Crunch forward Hector Marinaro (now second with 160 points) is a rarity. Marinaro, 37, has won the past seven scoring titles and eight of nine with Cleveland.

Delevski has seven games left in the regular season, and Marinaro has six remaining.

Around the boards

Today is the freeze date for all rosters. After 4 p.m., teams are prohibited from making any transactions for the remainder of the season. ... The Comets (22-15) lost for the first time at home this season. Their 16-game winning streak at Kemper Arena ended March 20 with an 18-16 defeat to Philadelphia.

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