The Blast was not at all hospitable when the expansion Norfolk SharX made their first visit to 1st Mariner Arena on Friday night.
Stung by an upset loss to the last-place SharX last week in Virginia, the Blast parlayed crisp teamwork and on-target shooting into a 18-2 victory before an announced crowd of 4,718.
"I thought we had a great response coming off a loss where we didn't play very well," said Blast coach Danny Kelly, whose team's 17-12 loss at Norfolk on Jan. 12 snapped a five-game winning streak. "We didn't show up down there. This is professional [soccer], you don't step on the field and expect to win. That performance was unacceptable and that's on the coach."
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This time, the Eastern Division-leading Blast built an eight-point halftime cushion and coasted in the first of four consecutive home games, including three against the SharX (3-12).
Richardinho's first goal as a member of the Blast started the onslaught. It came off an excellent lob pass from Carlos Garcia that Richardinho headed into the net from just to the right of the goal.
By the break, Pat Healey had scored following a feed off the board from Adriano Dos Santos, Max Fedinand and Machel Millwood exchanged goals and assists, and Warren Ukah scored off his left foot on a turnaround after an assist from Mike Lookingland.
At that point the Blast (11-4) had fired eight shots on goal and had scored five times. In addition, the best penalty-killing unit in the Major Indoor Soccer League thwarted Norfolk's man-up charge following an infraction against Stephen DeRoux.
"We knew we had to come out with a lot of energy," Ferdinand said. "We couldn't come out like we did down there."
The second half was more of a formality as the Blast raised its home record above .500 for the first time this season (4-3) and left Norfolk at 1-8 on the road. The SharX entered the night with a two-game winning streak for the first time in their brief existence.
Ferdinand finished with a hat trick and an assist to surpass Millwood (40 points) for the team lead with 42 points on the season. Ukah had two goals and Adauto Neto added a late goal and now has 38 points.
Norfolk 2 0 0 0—2
Blast 4 6 2 6—18
FIRST QUARTER: Goals: 1. Blast, Ricardinho (Garcia), 7:18; 2. Blast, Healey (Dos Santos), 12:47; 3. Norfolk, Delicate (Ferrer), 13:50. Penalties: None.
SECOND QUARTER: Goals: 4. Blast, Ferdinand (Millwood), 5:44; 5. Blast, Millwood (Ferdinand), 9:48; 6. Blast, Ukah (Lookingland), 13:41. Penalties: DeRoux, B, hand ball, 1:01.
THIRD QUARTER: Goals: 7. Blast, Ferdinand (Garcia), 10:25. Penalties: None.
FOURTH QUARTER: Goals: 8. Blast, Ukah (David), 4:35; 9. Blast, Neto (Ricardinho), 9:22; 9. Blast, Ferdinand (unassisted), 13:49. Penalties: None.