MASL Eastern Conference final
(Game 1 in best-of-three series)
When: Saturday, 7:05 p.m.
Where: Royal Farms Arena
Tickets: 410-73-BLAST, ticketmaster.com, baltimoreblast.com
Outlook: The defending Major Arena Soccer League champion Blast showed their typical resiliency in reaching the conference final, going to Harrisburg on Wednesday and beating the Heat twice to come back for the Eastern Division series win. Forward Andrew Hoxie was the offensive hero — claiming the game winners in both Game 2, a 7-4 win, and the deciding 15-minute mini-game, which the Blast claimed, 4-1. Next up is the Wave, a longstanding rival that upset the top-seeded Kansas City Comets in the Central Division final. After losing the first two regular-season games against the Wave, the Blast earned a 5-2 home win on Feb. 4 in the teams' final meeting. The Blast's confidence poured out in Wednesday's effort in Harrisburg. After dropping Saturday's playoff opener in Baltimore, they fell behind 2-0 in Game 2, but were able to pull through with a dominating fourth quarter that featured three unanswered goals. In the deciding mini-game, goalie William Vanzela made three saves early on and then Hoxie snapped a 1-1 tie to send the Blast forward. He becomes yet another player who has come through in the postseason with Lucas Roque, Tony Donatelli and Pat Healey mostly carrying the load to bring home last year's championship. The Wave will come to Baltimore with fresh legs and momentum after closing out the Comets in overtime of the deciding mini-game on Sunday. Marcio Leite had the clinching goal. The series will move to Milwaukee on Tuesday with Game 2 set for 7:35 p.m. and the mini-game to follow if necessary.