After uncharacteristically surrendering a pair of quick goals to the Rochester Lancers early in the third quarter, the Blast responded by scoring three times in less than two minutes, including a long-distance strike by Lucio Gonzaga, to turn a tie game into rout.
That type of explosiveness has kept the Blast atop the Major Indoor Soccer League standings for most of the season, and the team appears to be getting better each game. Mike Lookingland had a goal and four assists Friday, and Max Ferdinand had a hat trick, leading the Blast to a 23-12 victory before an announced 6,184 at 1st Mariner Arena.
The Blast hosts Rochester again Saturday and can earn a third win against the Lancers in less than a week.
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1st Mariner Arena, 201 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA
The Blast (11-2) matched a franchise record with seven consecutive home victories to open the season. Machel Millwood entered the game as the Blast's leading scorer with 38 points and finished with two goals and an assist. Lucas Roque also had two goals for the Blast.
"We kind of let down a little bit and they got back into the game," Millwood said. "We had to dig deep to come back and win this game. Hopefully, we make sure tomorrow night is not the same. We're playing good. Our record speaks for itself."
The Lancers' Doug Miller, who was a two-time captain at Loyola in 1989 and 1990, leads the MISL with 58 points at 43 years old. Miller played despite having a 102-degree fever earlier in the day and was held without a point.
The Blast lead the league in both scoring (13.8 points per game) and goals allowed per game (7.5 points). They showed much of that same balance against Rochester, dominating on offense and holding the Lancers (5-8) scoreless in the second quarter.
The Blast led 8-4 at the half, but the Lancers picked up the pressure and tied the game just three minutes into the third quarter on goals by Elliot Fauske and Mauricio Salles. The Lancers, however, got burned on their commitment to attack as Roque picked up a loose ball behind his defender and scored after finding himself one-on-one with goalie Gavin McInerny. A little more than a minute later, Millwood provided a 12-8 lead from close-range.
Gonzaga provided seven-point cushion on a 3-point goal with less than three minutes left in the quarter. Millwood then capped the impressive quarter by scoring with 57 seconds left.
"We have a lot of guys who can score," Ferdinand said. We let up a little bit, but we came back in the third quarter."
The Lancers cut the margin to 17-10 on a goal by Alan McGreal with 10 minutes left in the game. But Ferdinand answered for the Blast with his third goal with six minutes left. Ptah Myers and Adauto Neto rounded out the scoring for the Blast.
"I'm happy with the result, but to be honest, that was not a very good performance by us tonight," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "I thought we gave them way too many opportunities. We were just sloppy in a lot of facets of our game. We were fortunate that we had some great finishes."
Blast rookie William Vanzela continued to establish himself as one of the top goalies in the league, making nine acrobatic saves.
Rochester — 4 0 4 4 -- 12
Blast — 2 6 9 6 -- 23
Scoring: 1. Blast, Ferdinand, 2 pt., (Millwood), 4:19; 2. Rochester, Salles, 2 pt., (Matinez), 6:05; 3. Rochester, Ortiz, 11:35,
Scoring: 4. Blast, Lookingland, 2 pt., (Neto), 1:05; 5. Blast, Ferdinand, 2pt, (Lookingland). 3:47; 6. Blast, Roque (Lookingland), 13:10.