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Pat Healey shines as emergency goalie, Blast win wild one over Comets, 15-8

Sidelined the past two games with a hamstring injury, Blast defender Pat Healey was excited to get back in the lineup for Friday’s home game against the Kansas City Comets.

He wasn’t expecting to end up in the Blast’s goal – for close to three quarters.

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After goalkeeper William Vanzela was sidelined by a groin injury with 11:08 left in the first half, Healey was called in to help protect the home team’s three-goal advantage.

He left SECU Arena with a story to remember and the Blast left with a wild 15-8 win before an announced crowd of 3,041.

Healey, who has been regularly used as the team’s extra attacker late in games it trails, finished with 10 saves and Blast star forward Vini Dantas, also returning from a hamstring injury, led a balanced offense with four goals and an assist. Dantas’ fourth, coming with 3:56 to play, was the biggest — making it 11-8 after the Comets scored five straight fourth-quarter goals to cut the Blast’s lead to two goals.

The Blast, which got points from 12 players, moved to 11-2, improving its standing atop the Major Arena Soccer League’s Eastern Division with a 4½-game lead over the second-place Florida Tropics.

The Blast have played the season with Vanzela as their only goalkeeper with expected backup Deivid Chaves, a Brazilian native, still waiting to get his work visa. With Vanzela likely sidelined for an extended time, Blast general manager Kevin Healey was on the phone during the game and is expected to sign an emergency goalkeeper with the team back in action Saturday against the Harrisburg Heat at SECU Arena at 6:05 p.m.

After signing autographs in his lime green goalkeeper jersey, Pat Healey downplayed the special circumstances that helped produce another win as a fan shouted to him: “Goalkeeper of the Week.”

“It’s a win,” he said. “It’s not how we wrote it up, but it’s a win and we’ll take it.”

Vanzela shined before going down early in the second quarter, finishing with seven saves to help the Blast build a 4-1 lead.

Then Healey shined in the second quarter. He made three consecutive saves in a 15-second stretch and made two more saves before the half while the Blast killed off two penalties and padded their lead to 5-1 when Juan Pereira scored his second goal on a pass from Dantas.

With the Blast leading 10-3 going into the fourth quarter and seemingly in control, the Comets played the rest of the game with a sixth attacker and scored five straight goals to quickly cut the lead to 10-8 with 7:35 to play. But the Blast defense settled down and Dantas worked a swift give-and-go with Tony Donatelli to restore order with 3:56 to play.

“When I play Tony down the line, I know what he’s looking for, so I just went inside and he played it back and I was able to finish it and give us a little breather,” Dantas said. “It always amazes me — one down, next man up and Pat did a fantastic job in the net.”

The Blast put the game away with four goals in the remaining time.

“We say it every year — we just find ways to win,” Healey said. “We can outscore teams, we can play good defense. It’s weird, but somehow we figure out a way.”

The game already came with drama stemming from an incident that took place between the teams after the completion of the 2014-15 Eastern Conference finals.

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Moments after the Blast had claimed the deciding-game victory in Kansas City, Comets then-defender Andre Braithwaite head-butted Healey, who needed five stitches above his right eye.

Braithwaite was released by the then-Missouri Comets shortly after the incident and suspended two years before returning to the team this season as a forward.

During player introductions Friday, he received some boos from the crowd.

NOTE: Blast star forward Lucas Roque, who was lost for the season after tearing an ACL in the win against the Heat on Jan. 6, had successful surgery Monday and is expected back next season.

Kansas City 1 0 2 5 -- 8

Blast 3 2 5 5 -- 15

First quarter

Scoring: 1. Kansas City, Grant, 10:47; 2. Blast, Dantas, 12:00; 3. Blast, Pereira, (Vanzela), 12:16; 4. Blast, Dantas, (Melo), 14:50.

Second quarter

Scoring: 5. Blast, Hoxie, (Dos Santos), :17; 6. Blast, Pereira, (Dantas), 10:06

Third quarter

Scoring: 7. Comets, Flores, (Perez), 2:04; 8. Blast, Raley, (Santana), 2:30; 9. Blast, Nascimento, (Orlando), 3:29; 10. Blast, Thomas, (Melo), 5:14; 11. Blast, Dantas (Dos Santos ), 8:31; 12. Kansas City, Gibson, (Sinclair), 14:09; 13. Blast, Donatelli, (Raley), 14:56.

Fourth quarter

Scoring: 14. Kansas City, Pino, (Flores), 1:16; 15. Kansas City, Gibson, 3:19; 16. Kansas City, Flores, (Gibson), 3:57; 17. Kansas City, Pino, (Flores), 7:22; 18. Kansas City, Kelly, (James) 7:25; 19. Blast, Dantas, (Donatelli), 11:04; 20. Blast, Melo, (Santana), 11:52; 21. Blast, Thomas, (Dos Santos ), 12:03; 22. Blast, Pereira, (Donatelli), 13:43; 23. Blast, de Oliveira, 14:07.

Shots on goal: Kansas City 8-8-6-10 — 32; Blast 4-11-12-6 — 33.

Power-play opportunities: Kansas City 0-for-2; Blast 0-for-1.

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Saves: Kansas City, Gasson -- 10; Blast, Vanzela -- 7, Healey -- 10

A — 3,041

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