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  • Friday, February 4, 2000

    Drill's road rig shorthanded

    By GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

     The Edmonton Drillers opened their six-game road trip in the Motor City last night. And they did it without four regulars in the lineup.

     Midfielders Nikola Vignjevic and Alfredo Valente are playing in international tournaments, Paul Dailly is nursing a sprained left ankle and Martin Dugas suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Tuesday's NPSL all-star game and is done for the season.

     Vignjevic, the Drill's leading scorer with 88 points, is suiting up for a world futsal championship qualifier in Finland, while the 19-year-old Valente is on tour with the Canadian Olympic team in Mexico.

     Until the reinforcements arrive, head coach Ross Ongaro has 13 healthy players at his disposal.

     "Right now, we don't have anybody to fill the roster," said Ongaro. "We're going to have to make some decisions soon.

     "Obviously, we can fill the roster without cutting anybody. We've got our work cut out for us. Not only is it a tough road trip, we're short men."

     Developmental squader Angelo Sestito accompanied the club on the road swing and is likely to log a regular shift.

     "We've got 13 guys," Ongaro said. "That's what most of the teams travel with in this league. Now, we'll get a chance to see how the other half lives when they're on the road and come into our building."

     Barring any travel snafus Valente and Vignjevic should be back with the club for Tuesday night's game in Wichita.

     Dugas, meanwhile, was examined by the Drill medical staff yesterday and is scheduled to undergo corrective surgery Feb. 16.

     KINGPIN AT SKILLS COMPETITION: There were rumours circulating that Philadelphia's Goran Hunjak won the hardest shot contest staged during the all-star mixer held Monday night.

     The NPSL stars were treated to a night of bowling and pool at Red's in West Edmonton Mall.

     Hunjak and several other players' shots easily topped the 80 m.p.h. readout issued by the radar gun used for the competition. Because the gun was maxed out, it was difficult to determine a winner.

     All-star MVP Wes Wade of the Kansas City Attack wasn't about to substantiate Hunjak's unofficial victory in the hardest-shot competition. The affable Wade had other fish to fry.

     "I don't know who won the hardest shot competition but I know I won the bowling part of the skills competition," chuckled Wade.

     CAROLINA CALLING: One of the NPSL's best-kept secrets is that the league is moving into Greensboro, North Carolina next season. A group of investors snapped up the now-defunct Florida ThunderCats franchise and plan to operate out of the Greensboro Coliseum.

     The folks of Greensboro will get their first taste of NPSL soccer when Harrisburg and Philadelphia collide in a neutral site game March 11. According to NPSL commissioner Steve Paxos, North Carolina is a soccer hotbed.

     "Carolina, traditionally, has been very strong in men's and women's soccer," Paxos said. "We're in a soccer-oriented city and I feel good about that. It's a beautiful arena. There's going to be a lot of seats to fill but I'm confident that they're going to do a first-class job.''

     While Paxos hopes they'll be packing them in in Greensboro, the NPSL commish was impressed by the crowd of nearly 7,000 that turned up to watch the Drill and Montreal Impact at Saskatchewan Place last month. Toronto currently tops the list of NPSL expansion cities in Canada, with Vancouver and Calgary not far behind.

     "Saskatoon was an interesting situation," Paxos said. "I was very impressed. Any time you get nearly 7,000 people in that kind of weather on a Wednesday night ... Let's be realistic, I've been in markets when we play on a prime night, Friday or Saturday, and we can't get that many people.''

     CORNER KICKS: Shaw Cable will have live coverage of the Drill's Feb. 12 matchup versus the Kansas City Attack.

      ... The Drill's lone home game this month is Feb. 20. The locals host Harrisburg in a matinee contest.



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