Blast beats Heat 27-0 in Tarik Walker's homecoming

The Harrisburg Heat didn't put up much resistance in the Blast's 27-0 win Friday.

Blast fans gave former favorite Tarik Walker a warm ovation when he was introduced as the Harrisburg Heat's coach prior to Friday night's game at Royal Farms Arena.

Afterward, the Blast wasn't as friendly to Walker's new team. The home team controlled play from the beginning, peppering the Heat goal with shot after shot, and the goals kept coming and coming.

Forward Diego Zuniga scored three goals, and newcomers Jonatas Melo (two goals, two assists for six points) and Onua Obasi (one goal, three assists for five points) also played big in a dominating 27-0 win in front of an announced crowd of 4,911.

The Blast improved to 3-0 and is atop the Major Arena Soccer League's Eastern Division.

Shutouts are a rarity in the fast-paced, pinball-like indoor game, but the Blast and goalie William Vanzela have managed a franchise first with two straight, albeit against inferior competition.

"I don't have any control over who we line up against or anything like that," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "My job is to win games, get results and help us get closer to a championship. That's all I focus [on]. I'm looking forward to next week, going up against a tough Syracuse team up there and we'll go from there."

The last time the team surrendered a goal was in the first half of its 16-7 season-opening win against the Silver Knights, an impressive stretch of 159 minutes, 3 seconds.

Last weekend, Baltimore blanked the visiting Detroit Waza Flo, 26-0. Both Harrisburg and Detroit came from the Professional Arena Soccer League, which merged with some teams from the old Major Indoor Soccer League to form the new 23-team league. The Blast got points from nine players on Friday.

The Blast's first goal was a brilliantly struck left-footed shot from Zuniga that gave the Blast a 3-0 lead six minutes into play. Levi Houapeu made it 5-0 moments later and then Jerjer Gibson scored two straight goals — Melo assisting on both — for a 9-0 lead after one quarter.

Lucas Roque scored the lone goal in the second quarter — a nifty bicycle kick from the right side — to push the advantage to 11-0 at the half. Vanzela didn't make his first save until 4:07 remained in the first half when Heat goalie Scott Krotee jumped into the offense to get off a shot from far range.

Much like last weekend, the only drama left for the fourth quarter was whether the Blast could secure the shutout. Vanzela did it with a point-blank save on Zach Sell's shot with 9:03 to play for his third and final save of the game.

"I thought it was another good performance from us. Any time you can shut an opponent out it's a job well done — a collective effort — not only defenders and William, but the guys in front of them doing the job," Kelly said. "As a coach, you love to see that commitment to work and do the job defensively."

glenn.graham@baltun.com

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