Good teams find ways to win against a lesser opponent even when they may not be on top of their game.
So the Blast, which came into Friday's game against last-place Wichita undefeated and averaging more than 15-plus points per game, had that task when its usually precise offense was mostly absent.
Two goals a minute apart at the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth proved the answer as the Blast shook the pesky, defensive-minded Wings, 10-6, in front of an announced 6,624 at 1st Mariner Arena.
The Blast (8-0) maintained its firm hold of first place in the Major Indoor Soccer League, while the Wings fell to 1-5 on the season. Adauto Neto and Machel Millwood led the offense with a goal and assist each, while goalkeeper William Vanzela only needed to make six saves as the Blast outshot the Wings by a 31-15 margin.
"We created a lot of chances — and in the seven games prior we were finishing a lot of those opportunities — but tonight [Wichita goalkeeper] Sanaldo played really well and they were blocking a lot of shots," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "By not finishing the chances, it kept the game closer than it should have been. ... Overall, second half we were much better."
Good teams also tend to get the fortunate breaks, and the Blast got a pivotal one in the final seconds of the third quarter.
With the game tied at 4 and 12 seconds on the clock, a Wings defender's attempted clear along the boards hit off the referee and into the stands, giving the Blast a corner kick. After the Blast called a timeout, forward Tony Donatelli one-timed a pass from Neto past Sanaldo to give the home team its fist lead, 6-4, with eight seconds left in the quarter.
With 33 seconds gone by in the fourth, Millwood neatly redirected a shot in front by Mike Deasel to give the Blast an 8-4 lead.
"I think the goal [at the end of the third] changed the momentum of the game and then we got another goal right away from Millwood and that pretty much provided the win right there," Neto said. "We had a week off and we started a little slow, which is normal when you have a layoff like that. But the main thing was we stayed focused, did the things we were supposed to do defensively and at the end we got the result."
Wichita got a power-play goal from Freddy Moojen with 3:47 remaining to provide a suspenseful ending. But the Blast held strong on defense and secured the win when Neto scored a power-play goal with 27 seconds left.
The Wings didn't make things easy, particularly in a first half that ended with them ahead, 4-2.
The Blast had the ball more in the first 30 minutes and outshot the Wings by a 15-4 count, but struggled putting away chances.
Wichita midfielder Alex Moseley provided the only offense in the first quarter with a fine individual effort. He broke free from his own end and made a long run down the left side before unleashing a left-footed shot that beat Vanzela to the far post for a 2-0 lead with 9:56 left.
After nine unsuccessful shots, the Blast finally broke though to tie the game at 2 on a goal from Lucio Gonzaga with 7:40 to play in the second quarter. Forward Lucas Roque won a tough battle in the right corner and he needed two tries to send the ball in front for Gonzaga, who promptly found the top-left corner.
The Wings, with their only shot on goal in the second quarter, regained the lead a little more than a minute later when Miguel Fereer blasted a shot from the left side over Vanzela for the 4-2 advatage.