If Friday night's performance against the Wichita Wings is any indication, the Blast can cross out scoring goals as a concern going into the upcoming Major Indoor Soccer League playoffs.
In closing out the home portion of the regular season, the Blast produced an 18-12 win over Wichita in front of an announced crowd of 8,125 at 1st Mariner Arena.
Forward Max Ferdinand provided much of the excitement, finishing with two goals and four assists to lead an offense that got goals from seven different players. Adriano Dos Santos added two goals as the Blast improved to 17-6 with one game left at Syracuse on Sunday afternoon. Should the Blast defeat the Silver Knights in the 4 p.m. start, it would tie the Milwaukee Wave (18-6) with the best record in the league, but stake claim to the league's top mark based on head-to-head play.
"I thought we played pretty well," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "The defense was good and offensively, we were finishing our chances. The most important thing with that is we're creating those scoring chances and ultimately you want to finish them off."
The Blast will open the postseason against Rochester at 7:35 on March 10 at 1st Mariner Arena in the Eastern Divisional final.
Ferdinand's second goal of the night — coming with 1:20 left in the third quarter — summed up a game that saw the Blast respond to every challenge the visiting team presented.
With the Blast holding on to a 14-9 lead, Carlos Garcia firmly connected on a nifty bicycle kick that went just high. But Ferdinand was right there in front to pounce on the rebound to restore order with a 16-9 lead. Machel Millwood scored early in the fourth quarter and goalkeeper Sagu had five of his 11 saves in the final 15 minutes to further seal the win.
In taking a 10-4 halftime lead, the Blast controlled the flow with strong play at both ends and also scored some timely goals.
Forward Shaun David got the Blast on track early, scoring 37 seconds into the game with an extra-effort goal in front for a 2-0 lead. After the Wings tied the game moments later, the Blast regained a 4-2 lead when Garcia buried an ideal wall pass from Ferdinand with 4:25 to play in the first quarter. With three seconds left in the quarter, Ferdinand found the near post from the left side for a 6-2 lead. Dos Santos scored twice for the Blast in the second quarter, the last goal coming with 16 seconds remaining in the half to answer a Wings goal that came less than a minute before to gain the 10-4 advantage.
Wichita got three goals from midfielder Bryan Perez, including two in the third quarter that temporarily cut the Blast lead to 12-9.
"We really want to finish the season strong going into the playoffs," Ferdinand said. " I felt really good going into the game. We had a good week of training and then came out and played hard, so we're happy to come out with the win," Ferdinand said.
Blast 18, Wichita 12
Wichita 2 2 5 3 -- 12
Blast 6 4 6 2 -- 18
Scoring: 1. Blast, David, 2 pt., :23; 2. Wichita, Perez, 2 pt., 2:29; 3. Blast, Garcia, 2 pt., (Ferdinand ), 10:35; 4. Blast, Ferdinand, 2 pt., (Healey ), 14: 57.
Scoring: 5. Blast, Dos Santos, 2 pt., 5:48; 6. Wichita, Eyck, 2 pt., pp., (Quiroz), 13:34; 7. Blast, Dos Santos, 2 pt., (Ferdinand), 14:44.
Penalties: Blast, Garcia, (striking), 11:46.
Scoring: 8. Wichita, Perez, 3 pt., 6:56; 9. Blast, Neto, 2 pt., pp., (Ferdinand), 8:59; 10. Wichita, Perez, 2 pt., (Eyck), 9:15; 11. Blast, DeRoux, 2 pt., (Ferdinand), 10:50; 12. Blast, Ferdinand, 2 pt., (Garcia), 13:40.
Penalties: Wichita, Rivillo, (holding), 7:21.
Scoring: 13. Blast, Millwood, 2 pt., (Ferdinand), 14. Wichita Lemons, 3 pt., 8:23.
Penalties: Wichita, Quiroz (boarding), 5:10.
Shots on goal: Wichita 6-5-4-10 -- 25; Blast 5-3-7-13 -- 28.
Power-play opportunities: Wichita 1-for-1; Blast 1-for-2.
Goalie saves: Wichita, Sanaldo 2-1-2-6 -- 11 ; Blast, Sagu 4-0-2-5 -- 11.