Blast gets tough with KiXX in 8-4 win

Defense sets it up

Regis, Handsor score 2 apiece

Soccer

December 27, 2003|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

Blast coach Tim Wittman had just watched his team play a fine defensive game against the Philadelphia KiXX at 1st Mariner Arena last night, and had thoroughly enjoyed seeing that defense lead to a strong offensive attack that produced an 8-4 victory.

But when Wittman heard that Philadelphia goalie Peter Pappas had given up more goals than he had saved, allowing eight and stopping just seven, he didn't believe it.

"Something is wrong there," Wittman said. "He's the best keeper in the league, in my mind."

Something was, indeed, wrong. Pappas, a six-time All-Star, was playing with an injured knee that has slowed him since Thanksgiving.

He would love some time off to heal, but his backup is hurt worse than he is.

Still, Pappas wasn't looking for excuses.

"We've been off, without a game, for two weeks, and it looked like two years," he said. "But they scored some decent goals. Bottom line? They played well and we didn't."

Blast defender Wendell Regis was the first to make Pappas look bad, scoring on what the goalie figured was the first "real" shot of the game at 7:23. In 11 previous games, Regis had a total of two goals. Last night, he doubled his offensive production.

"Tonight, I was working well off the ball and got two good passes," he said. "And we had a lot of traffic in front of Pappas. It was hard for him to see."

Forward Chris Handsor also scored twice against his former teammates. If Pappas was not his normal self, Handsor didn't care.

"You can never underestimate Pappas," he said. "Whether he's playing on one foot or one toe, you have to play against him like he's fully healthy. But the ball is round. He's an incredible keeper but sometimes he'll get good help and sometimes not."

Blast midfielder Allen Eller, playing for the first time since recovering from pneumonia, scored from a wicked angle and the team also got goals from Danny Kelly, Rich Daughtridge and Giuliano Celenza (power play).

The KiXX strutted in with an 8-3 record, in first place in the Eastern Division and tied with the Milwaukee Wave for the best record in the Major Indoor Soccer League. They left a half-game behind the Blast (9-4) in the East. Both teams will play again tonight, with Baltimore in Dallas and Philadelphia in Cleveland.

Playing without three offensive threats - Neil Gilbert (pre-Blast signing commitment elsewhere), David Bascome (ankle) and Lee Tschantret (suspension) - the Blast played with energy.

"Everyone on this team is capable of scoring," said Wittman, "It's team defense that is the concern. They got away from it in our last game [an overtime loss to Kansas City], but we had it back tonight for one game, anyway."

Blast 3 2 2 1 - 8

Philadelphia 0 1 1 2 - 4

First quarter: 1. Blast, Regis (Celenza), 7:23; 2. Kelly (UA), 9:49; 3. Daughtridge, 14:16. Penalties: Blast, Nelson (tripping), 12:02. Second quarter: 4.Blast, Eller (Cabral), 2:25; 5.Philadelphia, Boney (UA), 8:59; 6. Blast, Handsor (UA) shorthanded, 11:12. Penalties: Blast, Garcia (pushing) 9:23; Philadelphia, Boney (elbowing) 12:02. Third quarter: 7. Blast, Handsor(UA), 2:12; 8. Philadelphia, Guastaferro (Vignjevic), 3:23; 9. Blast, Regis (Garcia), 7:25. Penalties: Philadelphia, Lunsford (tripping) 8:14. Fourth quarter: 10. Philadelphia, Morris (UA), 3:05; 11. Blast, Celenza (Farias), power play, 10:32. 12.Shanker (Aldrich),14:54. Penalties: Philadelphia, Roberto (Boarding) 9:16. Shots on goal: Philadelphia - 5-7-7-9-28; Blast - 7-10-5-2-24. Power-play opportunities: Philadelphia 0-for-2; Blast 1-for-3. Shootout opportunities: Philadlephia - 0-for-1; Blast 0-for-0. Goalkeepers: Philadelphia, Pappas, 7 saves; Blast, Hileman, 13 saves. A - 4,496.

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