The Blast is playing with an air of confidence that's easy to notice these days.
There's nothing particularly brash about it, just a simple way of how the undefeated team is going about its business.
It was clear to see against the Missouri Comets on Saturday night, how the home team made things look easy, scoring the game's first 15 points to methodically build an insurmountable lead.
The Blast shared the ball, pounced on scoring chances, yielded little ground on defense in the important moments and proved far superior against another Major Indoor Soccer League opponent in a 15-9 win over the Comets in front of an announced 6,611 at 1st Mariner Arena.
The win puts the Blast (9-0) one win shy of tying the franchise's all-time best start, which took place in the 1993-94 season ,when the team, then named the Spirit, opened with 10 straight wins. More importantly, the Blast padded its lead in the MISL standings and now sits 3 ½ games in front of the Milwaukee Wave (4-2) and 4 games ahead of the third-place Comets (5-4).
Lucio Gonzaga led another balanced effort with a two-point goal and a three-pointer. Tony Donatelli, Mike Deasel, Machel Millwood and Mike Lookingland each added one goal and one assist. Goalkeeper William Vanzela had another fine performance, saving the first 13 shots the Comets sent his way and finishing with 16 saves to improve to 5-0 on the season.
"Everybody [on the team] is friends, and I think that's a big point," Gonzaga said. "When you trust all the players, you know the strengths and weaknesses, so everybody knows each other and the ball is going to get [to where it needs to]. That's the thing, the big point."
The Blast jumped out to a 4-0 lead after one quarter and led 11-0 at halftime.
The Blast's first three goals — each coming in a different fashion — depicted the team's overall sound play.
Lookingland opened the scoring on a set piece, finishing off a free kick sent over by Millwood for a 2-0 lead. Later in the first quarter, Gonzaga scored on a brilliant give-and-go with Adauto Neto, who back-healed the return pass on the assist. After Gonzaga pressured and stole a ball in Missouri's end, he buried a three-point goal for a 7-0 lead. Deasel and Donatelli scored and assisted on each other's goals late in the half.
Lucas Roque and Millwood scored third-quarter goals to put the Blast up 15-0 going into the fourth. The Comets spent most of the fourth quarter with an extra attacker.
"We played well," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "We know that we're capable of playing well, but we can't relax, can't become complacent, and we can't take our foot off the pedal. Every game you have to be focused, because every team knows coming in here it's going to be a difficult game and they're going to have to play very well, and we have to be up for that challenge — everybody's best."
Missouri 0 0 0 9 -- 9
Blast 4 7 4 0 -- 15
Scoring: 1. Blast, Lookingland, 2 pt., (Millwood), :40; 2. Blast, Gonzaga, 2 pt., (Neto), 13:16.
Scoring: 3. Blast, Gonzaga, 3 pt., 1:51; 4. Blast, Deasel, 2 pt., (Donatelli), 2:18; 5. Blast, Donatelli, 2 pt., (Deasel), 13:03.