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Vini Dantas and William Vanzela lead Blast past Sockers in Major Arena League Soccer

Vini Dantas celebrates during the Blast's win over the Sockers. He had a goal and two assists in the victory.
Vini Dantas celebrates during the Blast's win over the Sockers. He had a goal and two assists in the victory. (Sabina Moran)

The Blast found plenty of offense from Vini Dantas, who finished with three goals and one assist, but goalie William Vanzela truly helped at both ends of the field.

Vanzela finished with 22 saves and scored the first goal of his eight-year career with the Blast, who defeated the San Diego Sockers, 9-5, before an announced crowd of 2,537 at Towson University’s SECU Arena on Saturday night.

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The Blast (6-5) have won two in a row and four of their past five after starting the season 2-4. A win in Sunday’s game at Harrisburg would pull the Blast into a tie with the Heat for fourth place — the final playoff spot — in the Eastern Conference.

San Diego (8-2) came in with an eight-game winning streak, but the combination of the defense in front of Vanzela and the goalie himself proved to be a puzzle the Sockers couldn’t solve.

It was the teams’ first meeting in five seasons.

“We’ve been inconsistent with our defense this year and cost ourselves some goals and some games, and that’s something we’re working on,” Blast coach Danny Kelly said. “William, for me, is the best goalie in the league. He was tremendous tonight; he gets up for big games.”

Vanzela scored the game’s final goal when the Sockers replaced their goalie with an extra attacker. The goalie made a long throw from the top of his box that easily made it into the San Diego cage.

Vanzela, though, was happier at the all-around effort the Blast turned in, especially on defense.

“I’m so happy to score, but it’s not about who scores on our team,” Vanzela said. “I think we did a lot of [defensive] work to keep them in a low score, for the most part. That’s how you get a chance to win.”

The Blast also found plenty of offensive production. Jonatas Melo added a goal and two assists while Victor France scored two goals in addition to Dantas’ output.

“San Diego is a good team, and we knew that nothing but our best would have beaten them today,” Dantas said. “I keep looking for the opportunities, and I take what I can.”

The Blast found some good scoring chances early against the Sockers, who came in having allowed just 39 goals, second-best in the league. But the Blast finally broke through with two goals 12 seconds apart in the first quarter.

After a San Diego turnover, the ball came to Dantas near the top of the box, and he poked it past goalie Boris Pardo. That came with 5:06 left in the first quarter and gave the Blast a 1-0 lead.

Pardo then was called for a hand ball outside the box which gave Juan Pereira a penalty kick. He converted that with 4:54 remaining for a 2-0 advantage.

The Sockers couldn’t solve Vanzela until he was not able to completely control a ball near the goal; it rolled away and Slavisa Ubiparipovic easily put it away with 4:51 remaining in the half.

Adriano Dos Santos answered for the Blast with 50.3 seconds left, scoring from Pardo’s left, and that gave them a 3-1 halftime lead.

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Dos Santos helped the Blast go up 4-1 with 8:08 remaining in the third quarter. He sent a long pass near the right wall to Dantas, who fought past a San Diego defender and scored on a high shot.

The Blast then scored two quick goals later in the period. Dantas completed his hat trick on the power play with 2:17 left. Melo earned an assist and then scored with 52.9 seconds remaining from nearly the same spot on the left side, making it 6-2.

The Blast’s Daniel Peruzzi might have torn an ACL in the game.

San Diego; 0; 1; 2; 2; -; 5

Blast; 2; 1; 3; 3; -; 9

First quarter

Scoring: 1. Blast, Dantas, (Keita), 9:54; 2, Blast, Pereira, power play, 10:06.

Second quarter

Scoring: 3. San Diego, Ubiparipovic, (Velez), 10:09; 5. Blast, Dos Santos, (Melo), 14:10.

Third quarter

Scoring: 5. Blast, Dantas, (Dos Santos), 6:52; 6. San Diego, Chiles, 8:31; 7, Blast, Dantas, (Melo), power play, 12:43; 8. Blast, Melo, (Roque), 14:08; 9. San Diego, Farber, (Chiles), 14:49.

Fourth quarter

Scoring: 10. Blast, France, (Donatelli), 5:01; 11. San Diego, Farber, (DeOliveira), 9:14; 12. Blast, France, (Dantas), power play, 11:22; 13. San Diego, Escoto, 12:32; 14. Blast, Vanzela, 14:10.

Shots on goal: San Diego 4-13-12-13 -- 42; Blast 8-7-7-7 — 29.

Power-play opportunities: San Diego 1-for-2; Blast 3-for-6.

Saves: San Diego, Pardo, 4-2-4-2 -- 12; Blast, Vanzela 2-8-5-7 -- 22

A — 2,537

BLAST@HARRISBURG HEAT

Sunday, 5:05 p.m.

Streaming: MASLtv.com

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