Home is where the wins have come for the Blast this season, and last night was no different.
For the seventh time in nine games at 1st Mariner Arena, the Blast prevailed, turning back its old rival, the Milwaukee Wave, 12-7, for its third straight victory to remain in fifth place in the Major Indoor Soccer League.
Now 9-7 after falling below .500 two weeks ago, the Blast was boosted by defender P.J. Wakefield's seven-point night. A solid defensive effort against the MISL's leading scorer, Greg Howes, was another key factor. Howes was shut out while constantly being double- and triple-teamed.
"You have to get up tight on [Howes]," Wakefield said. "If you can keep him off the board, you're going to give yourself a chance to win. He scores so many goals every year and you've got to play tough against him."
After the Wave (11-6) tied the game at 5, the Blast scored seven consecutive third-quarter points, and only some strong goaltending by Nick Vorberg kept Milwaukee as close as it was.
"We maybe could have scored another eight or nine goals. He kept them in the game," Wakefield said.
Wakefield's second three-point goal, with Robbie Aristodemo assisting, was the final score of the sequence, practically putting the game out of reach at 12-5.
"We played really well," coach Danny Kelly said. "We defended well and created a lot of offensive opportunities. This was probably our most complete game. We did a great job of limiting Howe's opportunities and keeping five guys behind the ball when we could. It was a total team effort."
The Blast struck first when Wakefield dribbled around a defender after taking a long pass from goaltender Sagu and beat Vorberg for a three-pointer, but the Wave countered to tie it just as a tripping penalty against Lucio Gonzaga expired.
Marcio Leite, the Wave's second leading scorer and a budding young star, found the net to make it 3-3 at the 11:03 mark of the first quarter.
Only 55 seconds later, the Blast regained the lead on a misdirection play that caught Vorberg diving the wrong way. Machel Millwood knocked in the goal on a feed from Carlos Garcia to make it 5-3, a score that stood up until halftime.
Milwaukee 3 0 2 2 - 7
Blast 5 0 7 0 - 12
First quarter: Goals: 1 Blast, Wakefield (Sagu), 3-pointer, 4:22; 2. Milwaukee, Leite (unassisted) 3-pointer, 11:03; 3. Blast, Millwood (Garcia), 11:58. Penalties: B, Gonzaga, 9:02.
Second quarter: Goals: None. Penalties: M, Ayegbusi, 11:02.
Third quarter: Goals: 4. Milwaukee, Ukah (Wiesner), 7:24; 5. Blast, Gonzaga (Wakefield), 1:52; 6. Blast, Bascome (Millwood), 11:35; 7 Blast, Wakefield (Aristodemo), 3-pointer, 14:36. Penalties: M, Hammes, 13:46.
Fourth quarter: Goals: 8. Milwaukee, Leite (unassisted), 5:22. Penalties: None. Attendance: 5,467.