Slow start costs Blast again in 11-7 loss

Down 9-2 at halftime, rally vs. KiXX falls short

road mark slips to 5-14


March 31, 2002|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA - The Blast has struggled on the road all season and struggled against the rival Philadelphia KiXX home and away.

So last night, the Blast faced a major challenge that turned out to be just too much. The KiXX dominated early and then hung on for an 11-7 victory.

"We've been trying to figure out how to have better starts all year," said Blast defenseman Lance Johnson, when asked about the difference between the team's play in the first and second halves.

"We dug ourselves another hole and had to dig out of it. The first half was just a lack of energy. It has nothing to do with fitness; it's just that we've been slow starters.

Down 9-2 at the half, the Blast cut the deficit to two points with 28.7 seconds to play on goals by Sean Bowers (three points) and Lee Tschantret. But the KiXX's Chris Handsor made sure his team's victory didn't slip away, scoring the final two points with 7.9 seconds on the clock.

The loss took away some joy for the Blast, which had learned earlier in the day that Major Indoor Soccer League-leader Milwaukee had again beaten Cleveland, 19-15, to cut the Blast's magic number to two in the race for the final playoff spot.

With a victory here, the number would have been a tantalizing one with five games to play.

"We want to win our way into the playoffs," said Blast coach Kevin Healey, who was agitated by the officials. "This was an opportunity lost. But give Philly credit. They were all over us."

But the Blast managed to adjust, though not soon enough. Its road record dipped to 5-14 and it will have to wait until next Thursday in Kansas City for its next opportunity to help itself.

While the Blast (16-22) fights for the final spot, the KiXX is trying to claw its way into the top spot. Coming into last night's game, Philadelphia (26-13) was three games behind Milwaukee (29-10).

The KiXX struck first. Handsor picked up a loose ball and streaked down the wing to draw all attention away from midfielder Gary DePalma.

DePalma was busy positioning himself at the far side of the goal, from where he collected a perfect crossing pass for a 2-0 lead at the midway point of the first period.

In the early moments, the Blast had kept the ball in midfield, but it didn't take long for the KiXX to take control of play. Nearly six minutes were off the clock before the Blast got its first shot. Meanwhile, Blast goalie Karim Mounban seemed to be under constant attack.

It wasn't long after the KiXX scored its first goal that it got its second on a strong move by defender/head coach Omid Namazi. He unleashed a shot from beyond the white arc for a three-point goal and a 5-0 lead with 3:49 to play.

If the game wasn't intense at that point, it got that way in a hurry minutes later. With 39.9 seconds left, Tschantret became emotional over the way Namazi jumped high into his neck and was given a misconduct penalty that resulted in an unsuccessful shootout opportunity for Philadelphia.

With 2:12 left in the third period, Mounban was injured when he came out beyond the yellow line to challenge.

The goalie hurt both his ankle and knee on the play and was helped off the field. He will be X-rayed when the team returns to Baltimore. Scott Hileman finished the game in net.

Blast 0 2 0 5 - 7

Philadelphia 5 4 0 2 - 11

First quarter: 1.Philadelphia, DePalma, 2 pts., (Handsor), 7:30; 2. Philadelphia, Namazi, 3 pts. 11:11. Penalties: Blast, Tschantret, (misconduct and striking), 14:20; Philadelphia, Namazi, (striking), 14:20; Philadelphia, Boney, (misconduct, ejection) 15:00.

Second quarter: 3. Philadelphia, Sloan, 2 pts., (Namazi), 3:14; 4. Philadelphia, Sloan, 2 pts., (DePalma), 8:41; 5. Blast, Kelly, 2 pts., 9:19. Penalties: Blast, (too many men), 8:04.

Third quarter: no goals scored. Penalties: none.

Fourth quarter: 6. Blast, Bowers, 3pts, pp), (Kelly), 3:07; 7. Blast, Tschantret, 2 pts., (Cabral), 14:31; 8. Philadelphia, Handsor, 2 pts., (Namazi), 14:52. Penalties: Philadelphia, Scigliano (tripping), 2:51.

Shots on goal: Philadelphia - 9-11-3-2-25; Blast - 4-7-6-6-23. Power-play opportunities: Philadelphia 0-for-1; Blast 1-for-2. Shoot-out opportunities: Kansas City 0-for-2; Blast 0-for-1. Goalkeepers: Philadelphia, Pappas, 15 shots faced, 12 saves; Blast, Mounban, 15 shots faced, 11 saves. Hileman, 1 shots faced, 1 save. Bowers, 1 shot faced, 0 saves. A-5,618.

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