On a night when the Blast honored one of its all-time greatest players, it also continued to put itself in position to add a 14th championship banner at Baltimore Arena.
Tony Donatelli and Lucio Gonzaga each had two goals and the Blast held off the Syracuse Silver Knights, 10-9, in their final home game of the Major Indoor Soccer League regular season before an announced 8,385. The Blast improved to 15-3 and have won seven consecutive games.
The Blast, which already has clinched a playoff spot, trails the first-place Milwaukee Wave (15-2) by a half-game. Former forward Denison Cabral was inducted into the Baltimore Blast Hall of Fame at halftime, flanked by other honorees Mike Stankovic, Tarik Walker, Billy Ronson, Joey Fink and Chris Vaccaro.
"I thought it was a very entertaining game for the fans," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "I'm proud of how we found a way to grind out the win. To be honest, I thought we gave them a couple of goals on our mistakes and unforced errors. Syracuse played well, they're going to the playoffs and that's a team we play again."
Blast defender Mike Lookingland (Loyola High) had three assists. Syracuse fell to 10-8, but is still in position to grab the fourth and final playoff spot.
Less than 24 hours after beating the visiting Pennsylvania Roar, 23-6, the Blast's offense continued to click, opening a 4-0 lead less than three minutes into the game on goals by Gonzaga and Donatelli. After a three-point goal by Nelson Santana pulled Syracuse to within 4-3 with three minutes left in the first quarter, Max Ferdinand answered for the Blast two minutes later with another two-pointer.
A power-play goal by Donatelli 2:44 into into the second quarter increased the lead to 8-3. A late goal by Nate Bourdeau pulled Syracuse to within 8-5 at the half. The Blast outshot Syracuse 15-8 over the first two quarters.
"They're a smart team," Donatelli said. "They know they have to get five guys behind the ball against us. I was really happy to come away with a win. It was hard-fought."
The Silver Knights controlled the early part of the second half, and a goal by Bo Jelovac cut the margin to 8-7 with 2:39 remaining in the third quarter. But Gonzaga responded for the Blast just 10 seconds later.
Syracuse struck again midway through the fourth quarter on a goal by Neto that cut the Blast's lead to 10-9. The Silver Knights went with a sixth attacker with 1:33 left in the game
The Blast plays its final regular-season games on the road against the Rochester Lancers and Pennsylvania.
"Our transition was not good as we needed it to be on both ends," Kelly said. "There are things we need to correct if we are going to compete for a championship."
Syracuse 3 2 2 2 -- 9
Blast 6 2 2 0-- 10
Scoring: 1. Blast, Gonzaga, 2 pt. (Lookingland), 1:47. 2. Donatelli, 2 pt. (unassisted) 2:57; 3. Syracuse, Santana, 3 pt. (Elenio), 12:56; 4. Blast Ferdinand, 2 pt. (Noone), 14:34
Scoring: 1. 5. Blast, Donatelli, 2 pt. (Lookingland), 2:44 6. Syracuse, Bourdeau, 2 pt. (Jelovac) 11:14
Penalties: Syracuse, Santanta (tripping) :57.
Scoring: 7. Syracuse, Jelovac, 2 pt. (Manfut), 12:21; 8. Blast, Gonzaga, 2 pt. (Lookingland), 12:31
Scoring: 9. Syracuse, Neto, 2 pt. (Elenio),8:16
Shots on goal: Syracuse 5-3-6-5 - 19; Blast 9-6-8-6 – 29.
Power-play opportunities: Syracuse 0-for-0; Blast 1-for-1.
Goalie Saves: Syracuse Moreira 12; Blast, Vanzela 10.
A – 8,385.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun