Sitting doesn't sit well with Blast's Hileman; Keeper happiest at work; KiXX to test him in series


If others want to sit out practices or games, that's fine with Blast goalkeeper Scott Hileman; he understands the toll the National Professional Soccer League takes on a player.

But Hileman wants nothing to do with the bench, neither for practices -- he doesn't miss any -- nor games. Coach Kevin Healey would like to give him an occasional game off for rest, but the keeper would just as soon pass on that.

So the two made a deal before the season that basically stipulates that Hileman is going to play as much as he physically can.

And Healey has kept his word. Hileman was close to or led the league in minutes most of the season, missing only three starts.

There were times this season when the Blast played three games in three days, five games in eight days and a night game followed by an early afternoon game.

Periods like these usually mean the backup goalkeeper better be ready. But not with the Blast.

"I don't like sitting out," Hileman said. "It throws my rhythm off."

When the Blast begins the playoffs Friday in Philadelphia before returning home Saturday night to take on the KiXX, Hileman could be the most important player on the field.

Hot goalkeepers can dominate a game, and if Hileman plays anything like he did when he gave up one point in the regular-season finale against Buffalo, the Blast should be in good shape.

For the regular season, Hileman's points-against average was just over 12, ranking him fourth in the league.

"There are a lot of factors that go into winning the championship," Hileman said. "It's something that you try to do the best you can. If it happens, then I'm going to be thrilled."

Hileman, who is 6 feet 1, 185 pounds, is a fiery guy who lets his emotions get the best of him from time to time, but he doesn't take it out on teammates.

"That's one of the things I like most about Scott," Healey said. "Other keepers in the league, when they give up a goal, they start yelling at the nearest defender to them. I don't like that, and Scott doesn't do that."

Hileman, 27, said players don't get to him, but sometimes situations can. He was kicked out of a game against Philadelphia for head-butting one of the KiXX players in the wake of a fight between the teams that resulted in one of his best friends on the team, Mark Thomas, getting thrown out.

And he missed the final few minutes of the last game against the KiXX after being penalized for an intentional hand ball, then received another penalty a few minutes later for a water-bottle incident.

"I asked the official was it a penalty and the Philadelphia scorekeeper, who is supposed to be impartial, started harping in," Hileman said. "He told me I was costing my team the game, and we kind of started yelling at each other. I threw the water bottle down in disgust and it accidentally squirted the official."

But outside of those instances, Hileman has been rather collected in goal this season. Here's how he got to Baltimore:

Hileman is from Phoenix, where his best friend at the time encouraged him to play soccer when he was 5. Shortly afterward, he and his sister, who is three years younger than him, began to be raised by their dad after their parents split up, which he says is the toughest thing he had to go through as a child.

"It's not good for kids to go through that," he said. "I had some bad memories at the time, but a lot of kids go through that. It was a time in my life when I didn't do so well for a couple of years as far as academics and soccer."

Hileman -- who did not sour on the idea of marriage and will wed his this summer -- eventually got back on track. His mother remained a positive influence in his life, and both parents were supportive when he said he was going to the University of Portland, primarily to play soccer, but where he was an Academic All-American in the 1994-1995 season.

In the NPSL, he had two solid seasons with Edmonton before going to Florida last year for 25 games. The Thundercats franchise was broken up and Hileman was sent to Baltimore with eight games remaining.

"This time of season is what you play for," Hileman said. "I want to win a championship for myself, my family, even two or three generations down the road. So my grandkids can look up [at my championship ring] and say, 'What's that?' and I can tell them what it is."

Blast vs. KiXX

NPSL playoffs Eastern Conference semifinals (Best-of-3

Friday: Blast at Philadelphia, 7: 35 p.m.

Saturday: Philadelphia at Blast, 7: 35

Monday: Philadelphia at Blast, if necessary, 7: 05

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