It's easy to understand why the Blast didn't go into Saturday's night's game against the Rochester Lancers with any added motivation.
Playing against the same team — an inferior one — on consecutive nights and for the third time in a span of five days didn't exactly promote enthusiasm.
On top of that, the Lancers' game plan was geared on packing it in defensively to further frustrate the Blast.
At least temporarily.
The Blast stayed patient and broke open a close game with nine unanswered points in the second half to secure a 15-5 win in front of an announced 4,765 at 1st Mariner Arena.
The win gives the Blast eight straight at home to start the season, breaking the franchise mark of seven set by the 1993-93 Baltimore Spirit.
"Tonight, with them sitting back, it made it difficult for us," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "I know it was frustrating for us. Credit Rochester, they did a good job of their game plan and it was 6-5 well into the third quarter. But credit our guys for battling and not getting frustrating and finding a way – that was the key, not getting frustrated."
The first-place Blast (12-2) handily took all three of its games against the Lancers (5-9) this week — averaging 20 points in the first two games — and the team is now 4-0 against Rochester this season. The Milwaukee Wave (9-2), a 13-10 winner over Syracuse on Saturday, remains 1 ½ games behind the Blast in the Major Indoor Soccer League standings.
Machel Millwood scored two goals in the second half and J.T. Noone scored twice in the second quarter. In getting four saves from goalkeeper William Vanzela, the home team held Rochester without a goal for the final 35-plus minutes.
"It's difficult [facing a team three times in a week]," Millwood said. "But the good thing is they came with a different scheme tonight, which gave us the opportunity to work on different things offensively. In the future, we're going to see teams trying to do that — sitting back, and I would say play a boring game — but at the same time be effective with it. We just have to make sure at the end of the day we go with the game plan the coach puts forth and make sure we're all focused and just be disciplined enough to try to put points on the board."
The strong defense and fine work from Millwood sealed the win in the second half. Leading by just one point, the Blast put together some nifty passes in close — Max Ferdinand to Adriano Dos Santos, who found Millwood in front to make it 8-5 with 5:26 left in the third quarter.
With the Blast on a power play, Millwood took away a ball past midfield and made a strong run before firing a 3-point goal with 8:20 left. The Blast added two late goals with the Lancers pulling their goalkeeper for an extra attacker.
A plodding first quarter only had one goal — a 3-point set piece from Rochester's Mauricio Salles with 2:21 left.
After 18-plus minutes of play, the Blast finally got on track with help from Noone, who matched his goal output for the entire season with two goals in a span of 4:01 to give the home team a 4-3 lead with 7:13 left in the second quarter. The teams exchanged goals before halftime — Rey Martinez giving the Lancers a temporary one-point advantage before Lucas Roque scored with 3:17 left to give the Blast a 6-5 lead.
"It took us awhile to get into the game," Millwood said. "But we just thought the hard work we put in would pay off in the end, and we figured sooner or later they would have to come out of that deep zone that they were playing and we just had to wait and capitalize when it happened."
Rochester 3 2 0 0 — 5
Blast 0 6 2 7 — 15
Scoring: 1. Rochester Salles, 3 pt., 12:29.
Scoring: 2. Blast, Noone, 2 pt., (Lookingland), 3:12; 3. Blast, Noone, 2 pt., (Roque), 7:13; 4. Rochester, Martinez, 2 pt., (Salles), 9:21; 5. Blast, Roque, 2 pt., (Myers ), 11:43
Scoring: 6. Blast, Millwood, 2 pt., (Dos Santos), 9:34
Scoring: 7. Blast, Millwood, 3 pt., pp., 6:40; 8. Blast, Donatelli, 2 pt., (Roque), 12:02; 9. Blast, Gonzaga, 2 pt., (Dos Santos), 13:19.
Penalties: Rochester, Salles, (charging), 5:05.
Shots on goal: Rochester 4-3-3-4 --14 ; Blast 5-13-8-6 -- 32.
Power-play opportunities: Rochester, 0-for-0; Blast 1-for-1.
Goalie saves: Rochester, Mcinerny 14 ; Blast, Vanzela 4.