Since suffering back-to-back losses early in the season, the Blast have surged through their schedule, putting themselves in position to win a second consecutive Major Indoor Soccer League championship.
On Friday night, St. Louis became their latest victim.
The Blast opened up an early lead, locked down the Ambush's attack and cruised to a 14-2 victory before an announced 6,432 at Baltimore Arena, extending their winning streak to a league-best seven games.
"We knew St. Louis was a good team and they were going to work hard and try to come in here and steal a win," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "I thought in the first few minutes of the game we had some mental lapses and some of their guys were able to get open. But after that, we played pretty well. We created a ton of chances. It was a tremendous effort, holding that team to two points over four quarters."
Baltimore improved to 8-2 and moved into a first-place tie with the Milwaukee Wave, which lost, 22-4, to the Missouri Comets on Friday night.
Adriano Dos Santos and Tony Donatelli each had two goals for the Blast.
Blast goalie William Vanzela, who is second in the league with a 5.40 points against average behind teammate and backup Troy Hernandez (2.33), improved to 5-2 on the season by finishing with nine saves. Baltimore outshot St. Louis, 34-17.
"They're working for each other," Kelly said. "Every shift on the field, we talk about playing honest defense and working hard. They're buying into it and they are seeing the results of that work. We just have to continue on that path."
Almost two minutes after killing a penalty midway through the opening quarter for a hand ball on Marco Mangione (Calvert Hall, Towson University), the Blast took a 4-0 lead on a pair of goals by Dos Santos. Max Ferdinand and Donatelli then scored just 15 seconds apart to open the second quarter, increasing the margin to 8-0.
After the Ambush cut into the lead on a goal by Brandon Manzonelli, Donatelli responded for Baltimore on a side-volley with 10:04 left that pushed the lead back to 10-2. The Blast outshot St. Louis, 20-14, in the opening half.
"It was an all-around good effort, defense offense and transition," Mangione said. "That's what coach preaches to us. To win, you have to play as a team and not individuals. We are really taking that to heart and getting results."
The Ambush simply could not find a way to crack Baltimore's back line. However, Blast defender Mike Lookingland (Loyola High) pushed forward and got his sixth goal of the season with four seconds left in the third quarter, increasing the margin to 10.
Mangione rounded out the scoring with 5:02 left in the game for the Blast.
"I think we could have scored more goals, but it's defense first," Mangione said. "From there, we get our goals. It's really a full system we're implementing here."
The Blast now travel to third-place Syracuse on Sunday to try and keep their winning streak alive.
"Syracuse is playing well," Kelly said. "They have a lot of guys who can score goals. They like to get up and down the field. They've won some big games this year."
St. Louis 0 2 0 0 -- 2
Blast 4 6 2 2 -- 14
Scoring: 1. Blast, Dos Santos, 2 pt. (Zuniga), 7:35. 2. Blast Dos Santos, 2 pt., (Gonzaga), 10:25.
Penalties: Blast, Mangione (handling), 5:13
Scoring: 3. Blast, Ferdinand, 2 pt. (Neto), 2:32; 4. Blast, Donatelli, 2 pt. (Mangione), 2:47; 4. St. Louis, Manzonelli, 3 pt. (unassisted), 3:27. 5. Blast, Donatelli (unassisted) 4:56
Penalties: Blast, :Lookingland (misconduct), 3:58
Third Quarter: 6. Blast, Lookingland 2 pt. (unassisted) 14:56
Penalties: St. Louis, Team (too many men), 3:17.
Fourth Quarter: 7. Blast, Mangione, 2 pt. (Gonzaga), 9:58
Penalties: Blast, Team (too many men), 1:40.
Shots on goal: St. Louis 7-7-2-1 - 17; Blast 9-11-8-6 – 34.
Power-play opportunities: St. Louis 0-for-2; Blast 0-for-1.
Goalie Saves: St. Louis Richey 19; Blast, Vanzela 9.
A – 6,432.