KiXX Weekly: Philadelphia Enjoys Idle Weekend After School-Day Win Versus Force
Monday, February 16, 2004
By David Deal
The Philadelphia KiXX (16-8) return to action this Saturday, February 21 for their seventh set of back-to-back games this season. The club kicks-off the weekend with a trip to the Family Arena to square-off versus the St. Louis Steamers at 8:05 pm ET, before returning home to conclude the series with a battle versus the League-leading Milwaukee Wave on February 22. Game-time at the Wachovia Spectrum is slated for 1:05 pm ET and can be viewed on CN8 beginning at 2:00 pm ET. For more information or to purchase tickets for any remaining KiXX home contest, contact the club’s Executive Office at 1-888-888-KiXX (5499) or log onto the team’s official website, www.kixxonline.com.
The club, courtesy of a 5-3 victory over the Cleveland Force on February 11 and a 5-3 Baltimore Blast loss in San Diego on February 14, now sits within one game of the top spot in the Eastern Division.
This Week’s Itinerary:
The Philadelphia KiXX and the St. Louis Steamers met for the first time in franchise history on November 14, in which Philadelphia defeated the Steamers by a score of 7-3 at the Family Arena in St. Louis. Goran Vasic led the club with two points on a pair of tallies, while St. Louis native Joel Shanker, player/coach Don D’Ambra, Pat Morris, Les Lunsford and Shawn Boney each added a single goal. In their fist meeting at the Wachovia Spectrum, the Steamers used a six-point third-quarter onslaught to claim a 9-5 decision on January 3. Steve Butcher and Mark Thomas combined to record five of the nine St. Louis goals, while the five different scorers contributed for the KiXX. The Steamers, inactive for the 2002-03 campaign, formerly operated as the St. Louis Ambush. Philadelphia and the Ambush met a total of eight times over a four-year span (1996-2000), of which St. Louis holds a 5-3 advantage. KiXX defender Jeremy Aldrich was originally acquired by the Steamers in the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) Expansion Draft held this past off-season. Shortly thereafter, Philadelphia acquired his rights in a three-team deal that sent former KiXX forward and 2002 Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) Chris Handsor to the Baltimore Blast. Saturday’s contest is the third of four total meetings in the 2003-04 season.
Philadelphia-Milwaukee has developed into one of the best rivalries in the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL). The KiXX edged past Milwaukee, 5-4, in the club’s most recent meeting on February 8 at U.S. Cellular Arena. With the victory, Philadelphia earned just their second road win in the KiXX-Wave series history. In the first meeting, Goran Vasic registered a game-high three points as the KiXX earned a 6-4 victory at the Wachovia Spectrum on December 13. MISL point leader Greg Howes paced the Wave with two points on one goal and one assist. The two teams have squared-off in two of the last three league championships; the Wave first defeated Philadelphia for the League crown in 2001, before the KiXX knocked-off Milwaukee in the rematch for the title in 2002. Last season, the KiXX claimed the season series, earning a victory in three-of-the-four total meetings, including both occasions in the City of Brotherly Love. The home club has held a large advantage during the series history. The KiXX are 12-3 when playing on their home turf, while Milwaukee is an impressive 13-2 at the Bradley Center. Overall, Philadelphia posts a 14-16 record in the clubs’ 30 total meetings. Sunday’s contest is the third of four total meetings this season.
Attendance Keeps Rising: The club’s attendance is on the rise during the 2003-04 campaign … through 11 home games this season, the KiXX have hosted an average 5,640 patrons each outing, including a season-high school day crowd of 10,153 fans versus the Cleveland Force on February 11 … the average ranks the club third in the nine-team MISL in average attendance this season … last season, the club averaged 3,536 fans through the first 11 home games of the 2002-03 season … the 1,712 fans per contest difference equals an increase of 60% this season … if prior years can be an indicator for the final stretch, the club should enjoy better numbers in the second half this season … the team finished last season with an average of 4,458 fans per game, thanks to a 5,905 clip in the final seven home outings.
KiXX by the Numbers: The Philadelphia KiXX offense has recorded 140 goals in 24 contests this season to post an average of 5.8 goals scored per game … the average ranks the club fifth in the nine-team League, trailing the Milwaukee Wave, Kansas City Comets, Baltimore Blast and the Dallas Sidekicks … the team’s defense has allowed 109 goals for an average of 4.5 goals per contest, tying the squad first in the MISL with Milwaukee … the club has held opponents under three goals (2.8) per outing during their current five-game winning streak … the complete breakdown of the team’s goals per game is listed below.
Plus/Minus with Man Advantage: The KiXX have both benefited and suffered from the power play this season … the team currently sits fourth in the MISL on the one-man advantage situations, connecting on the power-play 46.2 percent (12-of-26) of the time … Philadelphia’s defense, however, has fallen victim to the power-play, turning away only 14-of-the-30 situations or 53.3 percent of the time they have defended the man advantage … the team’s penalty-killing unit now ranks eighth in the League after allowing only one goal in four opportunities in their last three outings … the complete breakdown of the team’s power-play percentages are as follows:
D’Ambra Holds Hot Foot: Philadelphia native Don D’Ambra continues to be red hot of late … the player/coach registered three goals versus Baltimore (2/7), his second consecutive hat trick at home and 22nd in his career, then added another score versus Cleveland (2/11) … he has now recorded seven of the club’s 31 total goals during their five-game winning streak … the two-time all-star forward now sits tied for second on the club (14th MISL) with 31 points on 27 goals and four assists … D’Ambra also ranks first in the League with five-game winning goals, tied for fist with five first goals and third in total goals with 27.
First Strike: The KiXX have launched out of the gates, recording the first goal in 15 of their 24 total contests this season … the team has shown the benefits from connecting first, posting an 11-4 record in those games … player/coach Don D’Ambra leads the club and is tied for first in the MISL with five first goals this season … when the opposition notches the first score, Philadelphia posts a 5-4 mark.
Among the Best: Thanks to five impressive performances, goalkeeper Peter Pappas is back among the League leaders in nearly every goalkeeper category … the native of Toronto, Ontario currently ranks first in the nine-team League with 326 saves and a .782 save percentage, second in wins (15) and goals against average (4.32) and fourth with 1264 minutes played … the 31-year old netminder is in the midst of a five-game win streak and has not allowed an opponent to score more than four points in a single outing over that five-game span.
KiXX Send Five to All-Star Classic: The MISL announced on February 4 that five members of the Philadelphia KiXX have been selected to the 2004 MISL All-Star Game, to be played on Sunday, February 29 at the Family Arena, home of the St. Louis Steamers, in St. Charles, MO … Peter Pappas and Goran Vasic will represent the League’s International team, while Don D’Ambra, Pat Morris and forward Joel Shanker will compete with the MISL USA squad … for the first time in League history, the starting lineups for each squad will now be determined by the fans via an online vote on the MISL’s official website, www.misl.net … the online voting kicked-off on February 6 and will conclude at 11:59 pm ET on Sunday, February 22 … the results will then be announced on Thursday, February 26, at the MISL All-Star Welcome Reception, to be held at the Ameristar Casino in St. Charles, MO, from 6:30 - 9:00 pm ET.
Road to Victory: After posting a 5-4 victory in Milwaukee on February 8, the KiXX now own an 8-5 record when playing away from home this season … that road mark is one of only three over .500 in the nine-team League in the 2003-04 campaign … the Wave holds the MISL’s best road record at 8-4, with the Baltimore Blast edging closer to the break-even mark at 7-6 … with only five road dates remaining, the club is guaranteed to at least match their 8-10 road mark from last season.
Next Iron Man: Philadelphia native Pat Morris has become a permanent fixture for the KiXX backline and is truly becoming the franchise’s iron man … the five-year veteran defender has appeared in 171 of the team’s 188 total contests since he first stepped onto the floor as a rookie in the 1999-00 season … Morris did not miss a single game in both the 2000-01 and the 2002-03 campaigns and is currently in the midst of an 89 consecutive games played streak.
Last Time Out: KiXX 5, Force 3 (2/11): The two clubs were knotted at 1-1 entering the half, but Philadelphia used a 4-2 advantage in the final two quarters to earn a 5-3 victory. KiXX player/coach Don D’Ambra connected with team captain Kevin Sloan off a textbook give-and-go to provide Philadelphia the 1-0 advantage at 14:09 of the first period, before Cleveland forward Myles Stoddard tied the game with his first of three goals at 8:42 of the second. after one full period of play. Midfielder Les Lunsford and defender Mauricio Vincello sandwiched Stoddard’s second tally to retain the one-point Philadelphia advantage entering the final stanza of play. Philadelphia native Pat Morris and forward Matt Brooks each notched a goal in the fourth quarter to extend the team’s lead to 5-2 and seal the victory. Morris connected first on a dish from forward Vasic at 4:37, which proved to be the game winner, while Brooks recorded his score at 6:18 from Andy Guastaferro. Stoddard completed the hat trick with his third goal of the contest to bring the Force within two, 5-3, at 7:19 of the final period, but the KiXX defense tightened to ensure a 5-3 victory. Former player/coach Omid Namazi made his first trip to the Wachovia Spectrum as a member of the Cleveland Force; the KiXX’ all-time franchise leader in assists was signed by Cleveland on December 26, 2003 and made his season debut versus Philadelphia at the Convo on December 27. Peter Pappas (15-6) earned the victory between the posts for Philadelphia, turning away 19 of the 22 shots he faced, while Jim Larkin (5-10) took the loss for Cleveland, stopping 12 of 17 chances.
Future Games: After this weekend’s back-to-back set, the club travels south to battle the defending MISL Champion Baltimore Blast on Friday, March 5. Game-time at the 1st Mariner Arena is slated for 7:35 pm ET. The KiXX then return to the Wachovia Spectrum to entertain the San Diego Sockers on Sunday, March 7. The contest is scheduled to kick-off at 1:05 pm ET. For more information or to purchase tickets for any remaining KiXX home contest, contact the club’s Executive Office at 1-888-888-KiXX (5499) or log onto the team’s official website, www.kixxonline.com.
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