Tschantret aims for milestone

`Longevity and consistency' put Blast veteran 7 shy of 1,000 career points Pro soccer

December 09, 2006|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun reporter

Lee Tschantret doesn't carry a lunch pail, but he certainly shows up to work - with emotion and passion.

There is no dragging through practices or loafing on any shift with the Blast's veteran forward, whose perseverance and commitment have landed him on the brink of a major milestone: 1,000 career points.

When the team takes on the California Cougars tonight at 1st Mariner Arena, the 16-year professional will walk onto the field only seven points short of becoming the 14th player in Major Indoor Soccer League history to reach 1,000 and only the third who is still active.

"I guess that means you've been in the game awhile," said Tschantret, 37. "Longevity and consistency. And I've played with some very good teams."

"He's a pro's pro," said Blast coach Danny Kelly, a teammate of Tschantret's for nearly a decade at Harrisburg and in Baltimore. "He's the kind of guy you love or hate. You hate playing against him, but you love having him as a teammate. Lee has played at a high level for a lot of years because he knows how to take care of himself."

Signed as a free agent for the 2000-01 season, the New York native found a longtime home with the Blast after six previous stops. It is his hunger for championships that made Baltimore so appealing.

"In the past, if I didn't think a franchise was moving in the right direction, I could play my contract out and move on," Tschantret said. "A lot of guys don't understand how hard it is to win championships. But [owner] Ed Hale does. We have leadership here, and some guys don't know how fortunate they are to be in an organization that gives you a legitimate chance to win.

"And the older players here try to hold each other accountable. That's part of being a pro."

"Lee is very intense in practice and games," said forward Denison Cabral, who is in his seventh season with Tschantret. "He doesn't take too much in stride. He comes every day to work and never takes off. And he works hard to get you the ball in a one-on-one situation, digging balls out of the corner. If we're in the right position, chances are we're going to score."

Then, there is the other category in which Tschantret is the all-time MISL leader - by far. His 743 penalty minutes dwarf the field, although, oddly, he has not received an infraction this season.

"I'm just a very emotional player," he said. "That's just me, and I've always been that way. It's part of my demeanor. The [officials] let me scream a little more since I've been older."

"Over the years, he's mellowed a bit about that," Kelly said. "It's just that every game he's going to do whatever it takes within the rules and sometimes outside the rules."

Tschantret is not considered a scoring machine like Cabral or Giuliano Celenza, who are threats any time they touch the ball. His points generally come from within a team concept or from sheer drive from within.

"The numbers are a testament to his work ethic," Kelly said. "He's a very good scorer, but not an out-and-out one. He's somebody who pressures all the time and works."

Off the field, Tschantret is a different person, by his own admission "pretty easygoing."

"He's very family-oriented and talks highly about his wife and kids," Cabral said. "The guy makes a lot of friends. You learn a lot just by being around him."

kent.baker@baltsun.com

Tonight's game

Matchup -- California Cougars (2-5) at Blast (3-2)

Site -- 1st Mariner Arena

Time -- 7:35

Radio -- WCBM (680 AM)

Outlook -- The Blast is struggling with injuries. Player-coach David Bascome is out with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, defender P.J. Wakefield is doubtful with a sprained foot, F Giuliano Celenza is questionable with a groin pull and rookie Cristian Neagu is questionable with an abdominal strain. But California is struggling with its defense after allowing 51 points in two losses last weekend, 26-6 to Philadelphia and 25-15 to Detroit. Cougars G Dominik Jakubek leads the league with 86 saves. Enrique Tovar is tied for fourth with 18 points. The Blast is 3-0 at home; California is 0-4 on the road.

Kent Baker

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