Knee injury ends Panzetta's season


Injured Baltimore Blast defender Angelo Panzetta will require major reconstructive knee surgery and extended rehabilitation that may keep him out of action seven to 12 months, Blast trainer Marty McGinty said yesterday.

Panzetta, a starter in his second year with the Blast, injured his left knee in Sunday's 9-6 victory over the Wichita Wings, suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn lateral meniscus.

He will undergo surgery Monday. At best, Panzetta could return for the start of next season, McGinty said.

"Angelo planted his foot in the carpet and rotated it and that

usually causes an injury. The operation will be a patella tendon graft. They will probably take part of the tendon below the knee cap and put it behind the knee to replace the anterior cruciate ligament," said McGinty.

The setback to the popular player's career left Blast coach Kenny Cooper and Panzetta's teammates in a somber mood yesterday morning at practice.

"Everybody was pretty choked up about it," said Cooper. "When the call came from the doctor [team physician Joseph Ciotola], the players knew what it was. They were very upset. We all call Angelo 'Ace' because he's an A-1 person and player."

Cooper said second-year defender Joe Barger of Fallston will take Panzetta's place in the lineup for tomorrow's 8:05 p.m. game against the Cleveland Crunch at Richfield Coliseum.

Panzetta spent the day at home yesterday and is walking with an immobilized sleeve to keep the knee straight.

Panzetta said, "I'm going to work twice as hard as I'm supposed to in hopes of coming back as soon as David Vaudreuil did." The Blast midfielder suffered a similar injury last year and came back in 6 1/2 months.

Panzetta also said, "I'm trying not to dwell too much about how long I'll be out, but instead concentrate on doing the necessary therapy."

Panzetta said he was marking Wings forward David Byrne when the injury occurred.

"David called for the ball and changed directions," said Panzetta. "I planted my foot, it gave out and I heard a terrible pop. I thought to myself I was in trouble, and that's why it took so long for me to get up."

Vaudreuil said he knows Panzetta has the mental and physical ability to bounce back quickly.

"He's a great guy with a lot of courage and will make it back as soon as possible," said Vaudreuil.

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