League honors pair of Blast defenders

Bowers named Defender of Year

Nelson top rookie

Soccer

May 03, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Along with stellar two-way play throughout the season - blocking shots and piling up points - Blast defender Sean Bowers was a major influence toward the development of newcomer Billy Nelson.

Yesterday, both players were recognized by the Major Indoor Soccer League.

In his first season in Baltimore, Bowers was named MISL Defender of the Year, the third such award for the eight-year veteran. Nelson, a standout defender at Bel Air High and UMBC, was named the league's Rookie of the Year.

The selections were made through a voting process involving team management and a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters from each of the league's six cities.

In 44 games, Bowers, 32, had a league-leading 94 blocks. He also scored 93 points in becoming only the second player in the history of the MISL and its predecessor league to post 600 points and 600 blocks.

The tight-marking Nelson quickly became a fixture on defense for the Blast, finishing with 20 blocks and 20 points to surpass all expectations in a solid first season. He got nine first-place votes and 65 points, easily outdistancing runner-up Marco Reda of the Cleveland Crunch, who received 49 points.

"It feels good, and all the hard work has paid off for me," said Nelson, the Blast's first-round pick in the 2001 amateur draft. "The more and more I got a chance to play, I got more confident. When the players around you are confident in you, then that also picks you up as well."

Bowers, who spent his first seven league seasons in Detroit and also played four years outdoors with Major League Soccer's Kansas City Wizards, dominated the voting with 79 points. Philadelphia defender Pat Morris was second with 37.

"As an individual, you always want to be recognized, especially at your job and what you do," Bowers said. "But with us, our No. 1 goal is the team, and I'd gladly trade this for a championship."

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