Second-year Blast defender Steve Fell got a taste of what he needed to know about the indoor game last winter, and the experience left him with much to study.
There was the quickness and polished skills of opposing scorers. There was the physical nature of play to contend with, against stronger opponents than the ones he encountered while playing at Towson University.
More than anything, Fell's adjustment came down to playing more on-the-ball defense while learning the angles that make the indoor game so fast.
"It's still a team game, but there's more individual effort involved here, a lot more one-on-one. You're on the ball four times as much as you are outdoors," Fell said.
The second-round pick in February's amateur draft, Fell, a four-year starter at Towson, played in four games, producing two goals and an assist. General manager Kevin Healey said he has made the 20-man roster.
Coach Tim Wittman already is a fan of Fell's approach. During a recent, two-mile run to gauge the players' conditioning, Fell was the first to finish and was one of four players to crack the 12-minute mark.
"Fell has got to learn the game, like all young guys do, but he has worked his [tail] off," Wittman said.
Walker left unsigned
Healey said yesterday that the Blast has decided not to re-sign veteran forward Tarik Walker, the team captain for the past two seasons who is the second all-time leading scorer in franchise history with 727 points.
Walker, a 12-year veteran, has had offseason surgery the past two years. Over his last two seasons, he has recorded 31 and 17 points, respectively, marking the least productive years of his indoor career.
"We have a lot of respect for Tarik," Healey said. "It's 50-50 whether we'll sign him this year. We just don't believe at this point that he's ready to go."
When he takes the field in Friday night's season-opener against the visiting California Cougars, midfielder Lee Tschantret will begin his 15th indoor season.
With the exception of hernia surgery early in his career, Tschantret has played without a major injury while amassing 971 points - 15th in Major Indoor Soccer League history - and a league-leading 715 penalty minutes.
Tschantret, who is beginning his sixth straight year in Baltimore after accumulating 43 goals and 38 assists over the last two seasons, credits luck more than anything for his longevity.
"I probably lift [weights] a little more for my upper body, and I rest a little more initially in the offseason and eat a little less junk food, but I really haven't changed a thing," said Tschantret, 36.