After hitting a two-game snag on the road last weekend, the Blast returned to Baltimore on Sunday and got just what they were looking for: a reassuring laugher against the St. Louis Ambush.
The home team got a goal or an assist from 11 players, went 2-for-2 on the power play and outshot the struggling Ambush, 31-8, to claim a dominating 10-1 Major Arena Soccer League win before an announced crowd of 4,751 at Royal Farms Arena.
Forward Vini Dantas set the tone with the Blast's first two goals and completed the hat trick with a power-play goal to open the third quarter. Adriano Dos Santos had two goals and one assist and Lucas Roque added one goal and two assists in the win.
The Blast, who will next host the Milwaukee Wave at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday, are now 9-5 and atop the league's Eastern Division with a logjam behind them. The Syracuse Silver Knights (6-7) are in second place, 2 ½ games back, and the Harrisburg Heat and Florida Tropics are both 6-8, three games behind.
After mustering only five goals in losses against the Cedar Rapids Rampage and the Wave last weekend, the Blast were pleased to put forth a complete team effort in Sunday's comfortable win.
"We trained pretty hard the past week and everybody was locked in with what [coach Danny Kelly] wanted with the plan for this game, so it was a good effort from everybody all the way around," Dos Santos said.
"When you play at home, you have to win. I think we did pretty well: the pressure, how to break the pressure, possession, a couple power play goals, which was something we were struggling with before. So today was a good effort all the way around."
After surrendering the game's first goal, the Blast methodically took over with two first-quarter goals from Dantas and then three straight goals in the second quarter for a 5-1 halftime lead.
Dantas opened the second half with a power-play goal to get the hat trick; the set-up depicted just how well things were working for the home team. Roque had the ball deep in the right corner, sent a ball to the middle for Pat Healey, who made the extra pass to find Dantas free on the left side. He buried the chance to make it 6-1.
While the Blast's 9-5 record has them comfortably in front in the division, Dantas said the defending league champions haven't played their consistently well for much of the season. Sunday's performance was what they needed.
"We've had very good moments, but we haven't put in a full game together," said Dantas, who has 15 goals and 11 assists this season. "Going on the road and getting beat the way we did, this past week in training was getting back to the basics and trying to get back to who we are and what we do. We knew this game was going to mean a lot. It meant a lot in terms of what we want to accomplish this season, and we put the work in this week and it paid off."
The Blast's leading scorer, Tony Donatelli, recorded his 16th assist Sunday to go with his 16 goals. The defense was strong in front of goalie William Vanzela, who faced just three shots on net.