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Pat Healey, Vini Dantas help Blast stay unbeaten with 7-3 win over Silver Knights

From left, Baltimore Blast players William Vanzela, Pat Healey, Mike Deasel and Jonatas Melo celebrate as time expires against the Rochester Lancers during the MASL playoffs, Wednesday, March 11, 2015.
From left, Baltimore Blast players William Vanzela, Pat Healey, Mike Deasel and Jonatas Melo celebrate as time expires against the Rochester Lancers during the MASL playoffs, Wednesday, March 11, 2015. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

Pat Healey was a force at both ends of the field for the Blast on Saturday night against the Syracuse Silver Knights.

The veteran defender had a goal, two assists and five blocked shots as the Blast defeated the Silver Knights, 7-3, before an announced 4,021 at Royal Farms Arena.

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Vini Dantas (three assists) and Juan Pereira added two goals apiece for the Blast, who improved to 9-0 and have taken command in the Eastern Division of the Major Arena Soccer League.

"You're trying to win as many games as you can," Healey said. "You want home-field advantage in the playoffs. You're not just facing your division. You're facing other divisions, so you have to keep a good record. You try to go undefeated."

However, the Blast suffered a blow when forward Levi Houapeu injured his ankle with 4:44 left in the second quarter and did not return.

The Blast managed to lead most of the game despite being outshot, 30-22, by Syracuse. Healey extended the lead to 3-1 off a pass from Dantas with 11:54 remaining in the third quarter.

However, Antonio Manfut answered for the Silver Knights just two minutes later. Syracuse remained in control and tied the game with 4:34 left in the third on a goal by Gary Boughton.

After Silver Knights midfielder Tim Crawford received a two-minute penalty for tripping, the Blast retook the lead 13 seconds later when Lucas Roque slid the ball just inside the near post.

Another 1:13 later, Tony Donatelli provided a 5-3 lead in the final minute of the third quarter.

The Blast then ended any threat of an upset on a goal by Pereira 29 seconds into the final quarter. Dantas added the last goal with 1:26 left and has a team-leading 15 on the season.

"We found a way to win on a night where we didn't play our best," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "We need to play with a bit more urgency, a bit more passion. We allowed Syracuse to hang around. We gave up a couple of bad goals. And then we responded."

Blast goalie William Vanzela entered the game with a league-best 2.25 goals-against average — 2.37 fewer goals per game than any other goalie in the MASL.

Syracuse, though, attacked aggressively and took a 1-0 lead just three minutes into the first quarter when Cory Elenio got behind the Blast defense and beat Vanzela one on one. From there, Vanzela made several diving stops and kick saves.

The Blast responded two minutes later on a nifty goal by Dantas, who took a pass from Donatelli, turned with one touch and fired the ball inside the near post.

"We've given off early goals, but it's a long game," Healey said. "It didn't throw us off. Still, going down a goal is never good. We were fine."

The Blast took a 2-1 lead with 7:12 left in the second quarter on a close-range goal by Pereira after Healey caromed the ball off the boards. The Silver Knights outshot the Blast, 13-9, in the opening half.

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