Cleveland powers up, rolls past Blast, 12-8, in fight-marred game; Extra-man goals put game out of Baltimore's reach; SOCCER


CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Crunch used a solid power play to claim a 12-8 victory over the Blast last night before 8,787 at Cleveland State's Convocation Center.

The loss to the defending National Professional Soccer League champions dropped the Blast to 5-3 and ended its two-game road win streak.

Blast midfielder Danny Kelly's ejection early in the decisive fourth quarter, plus a fight an ejections of the Blast's Paul Wright and Cleveland's Scott Schweitzer with 2: 25 left marred the match.

Despite being outshot 20-5 in first half, the Blast stayed close, trailing 3-1 at intermission and 4-3 after three quarters.

"Our defense kept us in the game," said Blast coach Kevin Healey, whose team opened the season 4-0 but has lost three of its past four games, two at home.

Up 4-3 after three quarters, Cleveland (3-4) used a two-point tally by Goran Vasic in the first minute of the final period to move ahead 6-3.

Then Cleveland put its power play to work.

With a two-man advantage after two penalties on Kelly and his ejection, Cleveland's Kia scored at 2: 16 to build an 8-3 Crunch lead. With the power play still in effect and Cleveland up one man, the Crunch's Troy Dusosky scored 28 seconds later, making it 10-3.

Cleveland completed the rout when Vasic scored with 6: 05 left, making it 12-3 Crunch.

The Blast didn't fold late, however, and scored the game's final five points.

Acrobatic forward Denison Cabral got three of the five points on a goal and a shootout tally, and veteran Erik Rasmussen closed the scoring on a two-pointer with 32 seconds left to play.

The Crunch grabbed the 3-1 halftime edge using deliberate, ball-control play.

"We moved [Dusosky] from the back to the front so he could hold the ball in the offensive end," said Crunch coach Bruce Miller. "He had a tremendous game."

Playing without Hector Marinaro, the league's most valuable player and a tormentor of the Blast and its predecessor, the Spirit, Cleveland still outshot the Blast, 46-20.

The Crunch broke out 2-0 at 4: 38 of the first period on Juan Castillo's first career goal.

The Blast, its shooting chances limited early, got on the board on a shootout goal by Cabral at 5: 53 of the second period, slicing the Crunch lead at the time to 3-1.

Cleveland got that point right back, however, when at 13: 52 Scott Schweitzer converted a shootout. Under a minute later, the Blast's Jason Dieter made it 4-3.

The game was the first of three between the teams in three weeks. They meet Dec. 4 in Baltimore and in Cleveland Dec. 18.

Blast tonight

Opponent: Harrisburg Heat

Site: Farmshow Arena, Harrisburg, Pa.

Time: 7: 30

Radio: WCBM (680 AM)

Outlook: Harrisburg had last night off so should be well-rested for the traveling Blast. Heat forward Gino DiFlorio leads the National Professional Soccer League in scoring with 39 points. Teammate Bernie Lilavois leads the league with 14 two-point goals. The problem comes on defense, where goalkeeper Doug Petras has the league's highest points-against average (15.89).

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