Blast top Wave, 8-7 in OT, to take Game 1 of MASL Eastern Conference finals

For The Baltimore Sun
The Blast head to Milwaukee with control of the Eastern Conference finals.

Tempers flared between the Baltimore Blast and Milwaukee Wave in the heated opening game of the Major Arena Soccer League Eastern Conference championship.

The Blast trailed by three goals in the third quarter, but appeared to feed off that energy. The Blast erased the deficit and eventually took the lead on a goal by Vini Dantas. However, the Wave responded when Max Ferdinand scored with just over a minute left to force overtime.

But the Blast did not panic and Jonatas Melo scored just 48 seconds into the extra period, providing an 8-7 victory before an announced 3,235 at Royal Farms Arena on Saturday night. Game 2 is scheduled for Tuesday night in Milwaukee. The teams will play a mini-game immediately after that matchup if the Wave tie the series.

"We just kept working," Melo said. "In the second half, we came with much more energy. We were down by three goals, but we played great."

The Blast did a better job dictating play in the third quarter. The Wave, however, were able to absorb that pressure by getting players behind the ball.

A free kick from the top of arc by Ferdinand gave the Wave a 6-3 lead with 8:03 left in the third quarter. Tempers then began to flare after a couple of hard fouls from both teams. That gave the Blast some life and they pulled to within 6-5 on goals by Dantas and Juan Pereira.

"The Wave are a very good team," Dantas said. "They are a possession type of team. You have to grind it out. An overtime, golden-goal win shows it's a tough matchup, but we can still do the job."

After the Wave's Drew Ruggles received a two-minute penalty for tripping, the Blast tied the game at 6 on a tap-in by Adriano Dos Santos with 16.9 seconds left in the third quarter.

Dantas needed just 19 seconds into the fourth to give the Blast their first lead since the opening quarter. That goal prompted another scrum at midfield. Ferdinand and the Blast's Nelson Santana were assessed penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct. After the Wave later went to a sixth attacker, Ferdinand tied the game with 1:07 left.

Blast forward Lucas Roque suited up, but couldn't play because of an ankle injury he suffered against the Harrisburg Heat in the previous playoff round.

"The first half, we were poor. The second half, we were pretty good," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "In the first half, we were doing things we know we cannot do. Mental mistakes, physical mistakes; you name it, we did it wrong. At halftime, we knew we had to better and we were better."

The Blast took the lead 3:45 into the first quarter when forward Daniel Peruzzi deflected a loose ball off his chest into the goal. Ian Bennett tied the game for the Wave when he slotted the ball just past Blast goalie William Vanzela inside the far post.

After Andrew Hoxie gave the Blast the lead with 2:37 remaining, Ruggles answered for Milwaukee just over a minute later. Vanzela came up big with five of his 12 saves in the first quarter to keep the Blast in the game.

The Wave maintained the pressure in the second quarter as the Blast defenders scrambled to keep pace. Robert Renaud gave Milwaukee a 3-2 lead with 13:47 remaining. Vanzela then took a two-minute penalty for tripping, but the Blast managed to kill it.

That provided a much-needed spark as Tony Donatelli tied the game at 3 with a hard, low shot from about 18 yards out. Once again, though, Bennett came up with a big play as he deftly collected a loose ball, turned and fired the ball into the top corner of the goal. Two minutes later, Marcio Leite provided a 5-3 lead at the half.

Milwaukee outshot the Blast 11-5 over the opening two quarters. The Wave won two of the three regular-season meetings with the Blast.

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Milwaukee 2 3 1 1 0 -- 7

Blast 2 1 3 1 1 -- 8

First quarter

Scoring: 1. Blast, Peruzzi, (unassisted), 3:45. 2. Milwaukee, Bennett, (Rampa), 10:00.; 3. Blast, Hoxie, (Caltabiano), 12:23; 4. Milwaukee, Ruggles, (Mattos), 13:44.

Penalties: None.

Second quarter

Scoring: 5. Milwaukee, Renaud, (Hayne), 1:13; 6. Blast, Donatelli, (Healey), 7:48. 7. Milwaukee, Bennett, (Ruggles), 11:06. 8. Milwaukee, Leite (Rampa), 13:26.

Penalties: Blast, Vanzela, (tripping), 4:40

Third quarter. 9. Milwaukee, Ferdinand, (unassisted), 6:57. 10. Blast, Dantas, (Healey), 9:44. 11. Blast, Pereira, (Hoxie), 12:55. 12. Blast, Dos Santos, (Dantas), 14:44.

Scoring:. 9.

Penalties: Milwaukee, Ruggles (tripping), 13:55

Fourth quarter: 13. Blast, Dantas, (Pereira) :19. 14. Milwaukee, Ferdinand, (unassisted), 13:53.

Scoring:

Penalties: Milwaukee Ferdinand, (unsportsmanlike conduct), :19; Blast, Santana, (unsportsmanlike conduct), :19.

Overtime: Blast, Melo, (Dantas), 9:12

Shots: Milwaukee 10 11 3 4 1 -- 29; Blast 3 3 8 3 1 -- 18.

Power-play opportunities: Milwaukee 1-for-2; Blast 1-for-2.

Goalie saves: Milwaukee, Lemos 1 1 2 2 2 -- 8 --; Blast, Vanzela 5 5 2 0 1 - 13

A -- 3,235

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