Missed chances, mistakes leave Blast short, 10-9

Force gets one back

`soft goals,' inability to finish costly for visitors


October 13, 2002|By Chuck Murr | Chuck Murr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CLEVELAND - The Blast lamented missed scoring opportunities and defensive breakdowns last night that resulted in a 10-9 loss to the Cleveland Force.

"We gave up some soft goals in the second half," coach Kevin Healey said. "The good news is we played with composure and created a lot of chances, but I'm never happy with a loss."

Denison Cabral scored two goals to lead the Blast, but admitted he and his teammates were frustrated at their failure to convert several other chances.

"We got a lot of shots, but didn't finish them," Cabral said. "Then we gave them a couple of goals that should not have happened, but it's early in the season and I think we'll communicate a little better."

Hector Marinaro scored two goals and Chris Stathopoulos assisted on three others to lead Cleveland, which used a solid defense and opportunistic offense to avenge a 14-6 loss at Baltimore Arena last Saturday.

"Team defense wins in this league," Force coach Mike Pilger said. "We got all our players behind the ball and did a good job. We wanted to conserve some energy because we have a tough game Sunday in Philadelphia."

Stathopoulos, in his first home game with Cleveland, assisted on two goals during a three-goal flurry that turned a 7-4 Blast lead into a 10-7 Force advantage.

Stathopoulos set up Nevio Pizzolitto for a two-point goal 5:31 into the third quarter to pull Cleveland within 7-6. That came two minutes after rookie P.J. Wakefield's first career three-point goal had put the Blast ahead 7-4.

"That was the team's first three-pointer this season and sure I was happy with it," said Wakefield.

Midfielder John Ball beat the Blast's Lee Tschantret to a loose ball early in the fourth quarter and scored to put Cleveland ahead to stay. Ball got the ball along the boards near the yellow line and dribbled in all alone on Blast goalkeeper Scott Hileman (nine saves). He cut across the top of the penalty area and scored to make it 8-7 at 5:41 of the fourth quarter.

Marinaro, indoor soccer's all-time scoring leader, took a pass from Stathopoulos and hit a left-footed shot from 18 feet for his second goal of the game at 8:13 to make it 10-7.

The Blast tried to mount a comeback as Cabral took a pass from Paul Wright and scored over the shoulder of Cleveland goalkeeper Jim Larkin at 10:50 to make it 10-9.

The Blast applied pressure in the final minutes, turning to a sixth attacker, but Cleveland's shot-blocking defense held, Larkin finishing with 17 saves.

All three goals in a tightly played first half came on turnovers.

The Force took a 2-0 lead when Kiley Couch beat Hileman to a loose ball and scored. Hileman raced all the way to the yellow line, but Couch was just a little quicker and banged the ball off the boards to the right of Hileman, went around the goalie and tapped in an easy shot at 8:49 of the first quarter.

The Blast countered at 7:20 of the second quarter when Tschantret beat Larkin to a ball outside of the box and to the left of the Cleveland goal.

Cleveland 2 0 4 4 - 10

Blast 0 4 3 2 - 9

First quarter: 1. Cle., Couch (unassisted) 2 pt., 8:49. Penalties: None. Second quarter: 2. Blast, DiFlorio (Tschantret) 2 pt. 7:20; 3. Blast, Cabral (unassisted) 2 pt, 9:45. Penalties: None. Third quarter: 4. Cle, Marinaro (Stathopoulos) 2 pt., :29; 5. Blast, Wakefield (Hileman) 3 pt., 3:18; 6. Cle, Pizzolitto (Stathopoulos) 2 pt., 5:31. Penalties: Blast, Tschantret (tripping) 13:14. Fourth quarter: 7. Cle., Ball (unassisted) 2 pt., 5:41; 8. Cle., Marinaro (Stathopoulos) 2 pt., 8:13; 9. Blast, Cabral (Wright) 2 pt., 10:50. Penalties: Cle. Ball (tripping) 3:10; Blast, Bader (holding) 12:13; Cle., Pizzolitto (tripping) 13:08. Shots on goal: Blast 7-8-3-12--30; Cleveland 12-4-9-3--28. Power play opportunities: Blast 0-0, Cleveland 0-0. Goalkeepers: Blast, Hileman 14 shots, 9 saves; Kelly, 0 shots, 0 saves; Cleveland, Larkin 21 shots, 17 saves.

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