After outscoring Pennsylvania by a combined 74-2 in its three previous meetings this season, the Blast faced a much different Roar team Saturday night, one more committed to blocking shots and defending its goal.
Pennsylvania kept four players behind the ball and put a forward just above midfield as a target for counterattacks. Playing its second game in as many days, the Blast overcame some early struggles to pull away for a 16-5 victory before an announced 4,585 at Baltimore Arena.
"Every time we have played them, they've competed and played hard," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "The games have not been easy. They sat back, they defended and they have one of the best goalkeepers indoor in goal. They're organized defensively and they made it tough on us. When a team sits back, it can get frustrating."
Diego Zuniga and Mike Lookingland (Loyola High) had hat tricks for the Blast, which improved to 7-2 this season with its sixth straight win and trails the first-place Milwaukee Wave (7-1) by a half-game in the Major Indoor Soccer League standings.
Pennsylvania's Peter Pappas, a three-time MISL Goalkeeper of the Year, finished with 15 saves. The Roar (0-10) also had 17 blocks.
One day after beating the Missouri Comets, 14-6, the Blast was again stellar defensively. Starting goalkeeper William Vanzela, who leads the league with a 5.28 goals-against average, got the night off. Troy Hernandez stepped in, controlled the back line and finished with eight saves.
"Truth be told, they had a few opportunities," Kelly said. "Troy came up with some big saves."
In a scoreless first quarter, the Blast dominated the run of play and outshot the Roar 12-3. The Blast finally broke through 2:37 into the second quarter, when Diego Zuniga took a pass from Lucio Gonzaga and flicked the ball past Pappas. Goals by Zuniga and Lucio Gonzaga in the final 4:32 pushed the lead to 6-0 at the half.
"We just had to wait it out because we knew they could not keep playing 5-against-4 on defense," Hernandez said. "We were eventually able to open the score up."
Lookingland made it 10-0 early in the third quarter when he scored two goals almost three minutes apart on a free kick and a sliding shot. Jerjer Gibson finally got the Roar on the board with 7:40 left in the third quarter, ending a 157:20 scoreless drought for Pennsylvania against the Blast. But Drew Yates (Maryland) and Zuniga responded with goals to increase the lead to 14-2. Lookingland got his third goal with 4:14 left in the game. Ptah Myers added a goal for the Roar with four seconds left.
Pennsylvania 0 0 2 3 -- 5
Blast 0 6 8 2 -- 16
Scoring: 1. Blast, Zuniga, 2 pt. (Gonzaga), 2:57; 2. Blast, Zuniga, 2 pt. (Roque), 10:28; 3. Blast, Gonzaga, 2 pt., (Dos Santos), 12:46
Scoring: 4. Blast, Lookingland, 2 pt. (unassisted) :39; 5. Blast, Lookingland, 2 pt. (Mangione), 3:25; 6. Gibson, 2 pt., (Franks), 7:40; 7. Yates, 2 pt. (Neto), 10:31; 8. Zuniga, 2 pt. (DeRoux), 12:45
Scoring: 9. Blast, Lookingland, 2 pt. (Mangione) 10:46; 10. Myers, 3 pt., 14:56
Shots on goal: Pennsylvania 3-2-10-5 - 20; Blast 12-10-10-8 – 40.
Power-play opportunities: Pennsylvania 0-for-0; Blast 0-for-0.
Goalie Saves: Pennsylvania, Pappas 15; Blast, Hernandez 8.
A – 4,585.