Mission accomplished for the Blast earlier this week in Chicago.
The team successfully dodged the nasty weather with barely a glitch, opened the Major Indoor Soccer League semifinal round with an impressive win against the Soul on Tuesday and was safely back home on Wednesday.
It was a tidy turnaround that has the home team one win away from the championship series.
The Blast will try to lock up that spot at 7:35 p.m. Saturday when it hosts Chicago in the second game at 1st Mariner Arena. If the Soul wins to tie the series, a 15-minute mini game would immediate follow to determine which team advances.
On Tuesday, Audeto Neto and Lucas Roque each scored three goals for the Blast, and the team had 11 unanswered points in the pivotal third quarter to earn a 22-13 win.
"It was a great win for us on the road and showed that the team is prepared and ready to go. And I think we sent a message that we'll be ready for the next game, too," Neto said.
It was fitting that Neto, one of the team's veteran players, and Roque, a rookie, shared prominent roles in the playoff opener.
The Blast finished in first place during the regular season with an effective mix of returning talent and promising newcomers.
After splitting four games with the Soul during the regular season — winning two home games and losing two on the road — the Blast is in ideal position to move forward to the championship round.
First, however, the players know they need to beat the Soul on Saturday.
"We know we can't be overconfident and can't relax because that's when you put yourself in a dangerous situation," Neto said. "So, it's still like 0-0, and we have to come focused and prepared for the second game because we don't want to get in that mini game where anything can happen."
With the Soul featuring a dangerous offense led by former Blast forward Carlos "Chile" Farias, as well as the competitive games to this point, Blast coach Danny Kelly isn't concerned his team will get caught looking ahead on Saturday.
"By no means are we taking them lightly," he said. "We're on a mission to bring a championship to Baltimore and we're not going to let obstacles get in the way. We can't relax, drop our level because that's not how you go about the playoffs. We know we have to come Saturday and finish Chicago off, and it starts in the first second of the first quarter and then whatever it takes from there."
The two-time defending MISL champion Milwaukee Wave, seeded second, opened its defense on the road with a 12-10 victory in overtime over the third-seeded Missouri Comets on Thursday.
MISL semifinals Game 2
Chicago Soul at Blast
(Blast leads, 1-0)
When: 7:35 p.m. tonight
Site: 1st Mariner Arena
* If Chicago wins, a 15-minute mini game will immediately follow to determine which team advances to the championship series.