Blast (17-3) at Syracuse Silver Knights (12-8)
What: MISL semifinals Game 1
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Site: Oncenter War Memorial Arena
Outlook: Closing the regular season with a nine-game winning streak, the Blast earned the top seed in the Major Indoor Soccer League playoffs as it looks to defend last year's championship. First up is a home-and-home series with dangerous Syracuse that concludes Tuesday night at Baltimore Arena. Should the series be tied after the two games, a 15-minute mini game will immediately follow the conclusion of Tuesday's game to determine which team advances to the championship round.
The Silver Knights finished in fourth place and well behind the Blast, but proved formidable in four regular-season meetings. After Syracuse opened with a 9-8 home win Jan. 19, the Blast took the past three games, but the average margin of victory was less than three points.
With an experienced and cohesive defense playing in front of him, second-year Blast goalie William Vanzela (12-3) enjoyed a stellar season with a 5.57 points-against average and .833 save percentage, both league-best marks.
Defender and captain Mike Lookingland (Loyola High) has been instrumental at both ends, with a team-high 56 points and a league-high 33 blocked shots. His poise and experience in the back, along with the likes of Pat Healey (Calvert Hall, Towson), will go a long way in trying to shut down a strong Silver Knights offense. Midfielder Kenardo Forbes (67 points) and former Blast star forward Machel Millwood (58 points) finished second and fifth, respectively, in the league in scoring.
In the other semifinal series, the second-seeded Milwaukee Wave will open at the third-seeded Missouri Comets on Sunday afternoon, with the second game set for Milwaukee on Monday.