That first goal is so often the most difficult to get in the Major Indoor Soccer League, with the net seemingly smaller and smaller for the frustrated team as each minute passes by.
For the defending league champion Blast — playing its home opener against the Milwaukee Wave on Saturday — the first quarter went by without a goal.
And then the second. And then the third. And then, shockingly, the fourth one as well.
The Wave got all the offense it needed in the first half and then effectively packed it in defensively during the second to come away with a stunning 8-0 shutout win over the Blast before an announced crowd of 8,780 at Baltimore Arena.
“Obviously I’m extremely disappointed with the result. It was our home opener in front of our fans – something we talked about before the game. You’ve got to take some punches and we took a real good one and we’ll see how we respond,” said Blast coach Danny Kelly. "It’s one game ultimately – one loss – and I think that’s how we have to compartmentalize it.
"It’s one loss and we have 18 games to go and our goal remains the same and that’s to compete for a championship. We’re going to do everything we can to do that.”
The home team sent in 36 shots — most going high or wide — with Wave goalkeeper Nick Vorberg making 14 saves to record the rare shutout. The last time the Blast was blanked came in Philadelphia when the KiXX and goalkeeper Peter Pappas earned a 4-0 win on Jan. 4, 2008.
The Blast, now 1-1, will have two weeks to fret about the disappointing performance before traveling to Milwaukee on Dec. 7. The Wave, which got two goals from CJ Banks, improved to 2-0.
For a second straight game, the Blast's offense was slow to start. In its 19-8 season-opening win at Rochester last weekend, the Blast didn't find the back of the net until five minutes remained in the second quarter. But more goals quickly poured in soon after against the Lancers — five in all before the intermission that added up to 10 points as the Blast went on to win comfortably.
That didn't happen Saturday against the Wave, which had control of the game with an 8-0 lead after the first half.
The only goal the home team managed came on its own net, when Lucio Gonzaga was in right front and inadvertently headed a ball over goalie William Vanzela with 5:03 left in the half. Hewerton was the last Wave player to possess the ball and because he sent it in from midfield, was credited with a 3-point goal to give the visitors the 8-0 halftime lead.
Banks provided the rest of the offense, scoring a two-point goal for the only scoring in the first quarter and then adding a three-point goal early in the second off a bad Blast giveaway at midfield.
The Blast had a chance to get on the scoreboard late in the first half on the power play, but Max Ferdinand's shot caromed off the far post and stayed out.
Vanzela did well to keep the score at 8-0 when he stopped a point-blank shot in the final seconds of the half.
Milwaukee 2 6 0 0 -- 8
Blast 0 0 0 0 – 0
Scoring: 1. Milwaukee, Banks, 2 pt., (Perera), 9:21.
Scoring: 2. Milwaukee, Banks, 3 pt., 8:49; 3. Milwukee, Hewerton, 3 pt., 9:57;
Penalties: Milwaukee, Hewerton, (boarding), 10:41.
Shots: Milwaukee 3-2-4-0 -- 9; Blast 4-6-10-16 -- 36.
Power-play opportunities: Milwaukee 0-for-0; Blast 0-for-1.
Goalie saves: Wave – Vorberg 2-2-2-8 -- 14; Blast – Vanzela 1-1-0-0 -- 2 .
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