Blast lands a keeper in Hileman; Deal with Florida adds league's 6th-ranked goalie; NPSL notebook


The Blast continued to strengthen its roster yesterday, acquiring Florida goalie Scott Hileman for cash.

Hileman ranks sixth among NPSL goalies this season, allowing an average of 11.09 points per game while compiling an 11-13 record. He played with Edmonton from 1996 to 1998, allowing 11.29 points with a 27-18 record in 1996-97 and 10.09 points with a 17-19 record in 1997-98.

"Scott is an experienced goalie who, along with players like Mark Thomas, will strengthen our franchise this year and in future seasons," said Blast coach/general manager Kevin Healey. "We are pleased to bring Scott on board and I think we have a team that is ready for playoff contention."

Hileman and Thomas have signed multiple-year contracts with the Blast.

Lift from chatter

Thomas, a forward who was acquired from Florida Feb. 18, has a simple plan when it comes to soccer. It's called, "Let's Talk a Lot."

"I've always talked a lot, especially when playing soccer, and it's always helped," said the veteran, who has provided a huge boost for his new team. "For instance, during a recent game, we tried something, it led to a goal and I said, 'Hey, let's try that again.' "

"Yeah," says Healey, "Let's."

Period reversal

The Blast has been fairly quick off the mark all season, outscoring its opponents by 17 points in the first half, 197-180. The team has been cuffed around in the third quarter, 135-99, and been no great shakes over the last 15 minutes, either. Until recently.

During last weekend's victories over Wichita and Buffalo, the locals rose up and outscored the Wings, 18-6, and the Blizzard, 15-10, after intermission. Before that, the Blast outscored the Kixx in Philadelphia, 8-6, in the second half, but lost.

The only explanation Healey has for the form reversal is, "We've talked about it all season; maybe after all this time we're getting the desired effect. On the other hand, we're a much better team now."

Green power

Just when the bottom appeared to have fallen out for the Philadelphia Kixx, the team made a dramatic turnaround, starting with a midweek morning game. Beaten in seven of its previous 10 games and resting in the cellar of the East Division, the Kixx ran off three straight wins, lost one and got back to winning, pronto.

A magic elixir? Yes, if Kixx owner Ed Tepper's wallet can be so classified. Philadelphia took part in the fire sale conducted by the ThunderCats, who have reportedly lost $2.3 million already this season, to the tune of Jean Harbor and John Olu-Molomo.

In a triumph over the Blast, 22-17, those two were the best for Philadelphia by far. Earlier, the Kixx procured high-scoring Ken Snow (119 points) from St. Louis. Then Rick Titus was plucked off the Edmonton roster.

Et cetera

Milwaukee goalie Victor Nogueira has been named February's NPSL Defensive Player of the Month. Don't bother stopping the presses; he won the award in December, too, and finished second in January. Meanwhile, here comes Cleveland's Hector Marinaro, who, returning from a leg injury, took the Offensive Player of the Month award by cramming 36 points into just six games during February. He jumped from fifth to second in the scoring race, his 133 points trailing leader Erik Rasmussen's total by 11. The Blast averaged 4,610 fans during the first half of its home schedule, but that number has shot ahead to 4,953 over the last seven dates.

Blast tonight

Opponent: Harrisburg Heat

Site: State Farm Show Arena, Harrisburg, Pa.

Time: 7: 35

Radio: WJFK (1300 AM)

Outlook: The name of the opponent changes constantly, but not the situation. Every game is a big game now for the Blast (15-16), particularly those against division foes, which the Heat (14-16) is. The Blast holds a 3-2 edge over Harrisburg in the season series, but can't afford a loss in this final game between the teams because the Heat would win a tiebreaker if the two ended up tied for the fifth and last spot for the conference playoffs. Both teams have two-game winning streaks.

Pub Date: 3/05/99

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