By Glenn Graham, The Baltimore Sun
10:18 PM EST, December 10, 2011
The Blast's struggles at 1st Mariner Arena continued to grow Saturday night with another puzzling collapse.
For a second straight night, the home team lost control of a game it seemingly had in hand, allowing the Syracuse Silver Knights to score the game's last eight points and come away with a stunning 12-9 win before an announced crowd of 5,716.
Syracuse defender Jeff Hughes provided the difference, racing the length of the field and then cranking a three-point shot with 5:58 to play to break the 9-9 tie that began the fourth quarter.
On Friday night, the Blast squandered a 10-2 lead in losing to the Missouri Comets, 12-10.
"We're finding ways to lose, and we need to find ways to win," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "They should have learned from [Friday] how quickly things can change in the indoor game. Right now, we're down, but obviously we're not out. We lost two games at home and we're obviously very unhappy with these two results. But we're a work in progress, we have a lot of work to do and I'm confident we can bounce back."
Despite being 0-3 on its home turf, the Blast (5-3) remains in first place in the Major Indoor Soccer League's Eastern division — two games in front of second-place Rochester.
After opening the season with an 18-7 loss to the Silver Knights on Nov. 12, the Blast impressively won five straight road games before returning home this weekend.
Two winnable games turned into two painful setbacks, both showing a lack of poise when the Blast needed it most.
Leading 5-4 at the half Saturday, the Blast appeared to take control early in the third quarter with goals from J.T. Noone and Max Ferdinand that pushed the advantage to 9-4 with 3:24 remaining in the period. But the Silver Knights scored twice in the quarter's final minute to pull even. After Daniel Stevens scored his second two-point goal with 56 seconds left, Marcos Chantel cranked a three-point shot that banged off the boards and then off a Blast defender in front before going in to tie the game at 9.
The Silver Knights picked up where they left off from their last visit, jumping out to a 4-0 advantage with goals from Daniel Stevens and Alex Megson a little more than a minute apart late in the first quarter. But the Blast found an answer and something positive to build on with a nifty goal from Mike Lookingland with 42 seconds left in the quarter. Lookingland took a pass from Carlos Garcia on the left side and faked a shot to lose a defender before cranking a shot from 14 yards that got through Syracuse goalie Eric Reed to cut the deficit to 4-2.
The Blast dominated the second quarter and took a 5-4 lead with 10:28 to play when Machel Millwood found the top right corner with a heavy left-footed shot from beyond the three-point line, but the home team was unable to build on the advantage despite having an 8-4 edge in shots in the quarter and having the first half's only power play in the final minutes.
"It's one of those days where it just wasn't going to go your way," Lookingland said. "The soccer gods are against us right now, but we won five game in a row, we're still in first place in our division, so our focus hasn't changed. We're not going to dwell on this too much because it's done. We'll go out and win the next one."
Syracuse 4 0 5 3 -- 12
Blast 2 3 4 0 -- 9
Scoring: 1. Syracuse, Stevens, 2 pt., (Megson) , 10:04; 2. Syracuse, Megson, 2 pt., 11:26; 3. Blast, Lookingland, 2 pt., (Garcia), 14:18.
Scoring: 4. Blast, Millwood, 3 pt., (Garcia ), 4:32.
Penalties: Syracuse, Ubiparipovic, (tripping), 12:19.
Scoring: 5. Blast, Noone, 2 pt., (Deasel), 2:57; 6. Blast, Ferdinand, 2 pt., (Millwood), 11:36; 7. Syracuse, Stevens, 2 pt., (Ubiparipovic), 14:04 ; 8. Syracuse, Chantel, 3 pt., 14:39.
Scoring: 8. Syracuse, Hughes, 3 pt., 9:02.
Power-play opportunities: Syracuse 0-for-0; Blast 0-for-1.
Goalie Saves: Syracuse, Reed 8; Blast, Sagu 4.
A – 5,716.
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