On Friday night, goalkeeper Joey Kapinos was sitting at home in Massachusetts when his phone rang.
One night later, the 28-year-old six-year veteran was starting for his fifth team, the two-time defending Major Arena Soccer League champion Blast.
With star goalkeeper William Vanzela injured in Friday’s win over the Kansas City Comets, the Blast turned to Kapinos and continued to do what they do — win.
Kapinos, who played with the Ontario Fury last season, made 12 saves and the Blast went 4-for-4 on the power play to claim a 12-5 win over the Harrisburg Heat before an announced crowd of 3,554 at SECU Arena.
The Blast improved to 12-2 on the season, increasing their Eastern Division lead to five games. With seven saves coming in the first quarter, Kapinos didn’t have much choice but to settle in quickly.
“I was a little nervous at the very beginning, but as soon as I got that first ball in my hands I knew it was just another game and I knew the guys were there to support me,” he said. “They’ve been great to me already and I’m excited for what’s to come.”
Adriano Dos Santos finished with two goals and two assists to lead the Blast’s balanced attack while Vini Dantas and Juan Pereira each added two goals and an assist. The Heat are now 5-10 in the division’s basement. Blast Hall of Famer Denison Cabral, who has been head coach for the Heat the past two seasons, returned to the field for the visitors and had an assist in his third game back playing.
After Vanzela went down with a groin injury in the second quarter Friday — he’s scheduled for an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the injury — Blast general manager Kevin Healey reached out to Kapinos and the netminder said he was good to go. After filling out the needed paperwork and getting directions to SECU Arena, he arrived in Baltimore at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, passed his physical at 3:30 and then was busy making saves for the home team.
The Blast put the game away in the third quarter. With the game tied at 5, they scored six straight goals to end the quarter, getting power-play goals from Dantas and Tony Donatelli and the last goal from Adnrew Hoxie with less than a second to play for an 11-5 lead that wouldn’t be threatened.
“I thought the effort was great. We know whenever we play Harrisburg, the records go out the window and it’s going to be a battle,” Blast coach Danny Kelly said. “There was a stretch there where we let them back in the game. But give credit to our guys. They stepped up and started finishing chances and we got better in the second half.”
Kelly was impressed with what he saw from Kapinos under the trying circumstances.
“I didn’t tell him much. I just said, ‘Don’t overthink things and just be yourself and play,’ ” Kelly said. “I knew he was a good goalie. We tried to bring him here a couple years back, so we knew we were getting a solid goalie and he did a great job.”
The Blast gave their new goalkeeper an early 1-0 lead when Dos Santos tapped home a rebound off Hoxie’s shot in the opening minute.
Kapinos had his first assist before his second save for the Blast when he sent a through ball to Pereira for a 2-0 lead with 10:18 to play.
After the Heat scored two straight goals to get even early in the second quarter – Cabral assisting on the first goal – the Blast got rolling. Pat Healey sent a ball across that went in off a deflection from a Heat defender. Dos Santos scored his second goal on a power play and then Nelson Santana made it 5-2 with 2:26 to play in the half. The Heat were able to get one goal back when Elmo Neto scored with 41 seconds left in the second quarter to make it 5-3 at the half and the momentum carried over into the third quarter as the visitors tied the game at 5 before the Blast took over.
Harrisburg 1 2 2 --
Blast 2 3 6 --
Scoring: 1. Blast, Dos Santos, (Hoxie), 1:00; 2. Blast, Pereira, (Kapinos), 4:42; 3. Harrisburg, Carvalho, (Cabral), 7:57.
Scoring: 4. Harrisburg, Freitas, (Teixeira), 4:51; 5. Blast, Healey, (Pereira), 6:04; 6. Blast, Dos Santos, (Donatelli), 10:19; 7. Blast, Santana, (Healey), 12:34; 8. Harrisburg, Neto, (Mellor), 14:19.
Scoring: 9. Harrisburg, Mellor, 1:17; 10. Harrisburg, Carvalho, (Freitas), 2:59; 11. Blast, Dantas, (Dos Santos), 5:51; 12. Blast, Donatelli, (Dantas), 8:40; 13. Blast, Dantas, (Donatelli), 10:08; 14. Blast, Raley, 12:47; 15. Blast, Pereira, 13:20 15. Blast, Hoxie, 14:59.
Scoring: 16. Blast, Greensfelder, (Dos Santos), 4:47; 17.
Shots on goal: Harrisburg 10-3-9- -- ; Blast 7-9-13- — .
Power-play opportunities: Harrisburg 0-for-1; Blast 4-for-4.
Saves: Kansas City, Silva 4-3-3- -- ; Blast, Kapinos 7-1-3- --