The last time Pat Healey was at SECU Arena, he was sporting a Blast uniform during last year’s playoff run — defending efficiently as the home team was on the cusp of a third straight Major Arena Soccer League championship.
His father, Kevin, was there as well, ironing out all the usual last-minute game-day issues that come with being the team’s president and general manager.
The view for the Healeys was considerably different Saturday.
After a 10-year playing career with the Blast, Pat was decked out in a sharp blue suit as the first-year head coach of the rival Harrisburg Heat. Kevin, now serving in the Heat’s front office, was all smiles and busy catching up with all the fans, friends and colleagues he had met over the course of his 20 years in the Blast organization. His usual ride from Bel Air to the arena was a time to reflect.
“I’m really proud of what we accomplished here in Baltimore and that’s what I was thinking about on the ride here,” Kevin said before the game. “We put together a good team on the field, obviously, and we put together a really good staff and I’m content.”
Afterward, the Blast did what they always do at SECU Arena — using a big fourth quarter to pull away for a 9-4 win before an announced sellout crowd of 3,811.
Vini Dantas finished with two goals and two assists and the Blast scored four unanswered goals in the fourth to improve to 16-0 in their two seasons at SECU Arena.
The win keeps the Blast (5-2) in second place in the league’s Eastern Division as they remain a half-game behind front-runner Utica City FC, which improved to 6-2 with a 5-4 win over Mississauga on Friday. The Heat, losers of four straight, are now 1-5 and in the division basement.
The game was tightly contested through three quarters with four ties and the Blast holding a 5-4 lead going into the fourth. Josh Hughes scored his second goal with 11:58 to play to make it 6-4 and the Blast were on their way.
“We just needed to keep possession better and not just keeping it, but make something with it,” Dantas said. “I felt like the first half we were keeping the ball with not a lot of objective behind it. In the second half, we were able to start capitalizing on spacing, some balls off the board and things like that.”
Jonatas Melo added one goal and one assist to bring his season total to five goals and eight assists.
The Blast will return to SECU Arena for two games next weekend, taking on the Heat at 6 p.m. Saturday before hosting Mississauga at 2 p.m. Sunday.