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Blast grind out 7-3 win over Soles de Sonora to keep pace in MASL playoff race: ‘We need to be better’

Approaching the midway point of the Major Arena Soccer League regular season, the Blast find themselves in unfamiliar territory — on the outside of the playoffs.

It doesn’t call for desperate measures, just a return to the familiar recipe that has brought home consistent success — a defense-first approach that helps generate scoring chances.

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In renewing its rivalry against Soles de Sonora, a team they beat for MASL titles in 2016 and 2017, the Blast kept the visitors without a goal for a 38-plus minute stretch covering parts of all four quarters. With Daniel Peruzzi leading the offense with a three-goal performance and goalie William Vanzela turning back 25 shots, the Blast claimed a 7-3 victory over the Mexican-based team Monday afternoon at Towson’s SECU Arena.

The win evens the Blast record at 5-5 as they move into fifth place in the league’s nine-team Eastern Division. The top four will make the playoffs.

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“Today, we showed a much better defensive performance and that’s how we find goals. Defend hard and then you get opportunities and then finish our opportunities and we win games,” Vanzela said. “The main thing is not who steps up, but how we perform as a team. We did our jobs defensively. That’s who we are, that’s how we win and that’s what we have to get back to. It’s one game at a time.”

Peruzzi opened the scoring a little over a minute into the game on a quick restart at midfield and added consecutive goals in the second quarter for a 5-1 halftime advantage. Vini Dantas (two goals, one assist) and Tony Donatelli (two goals) found familiar success against Sonora after they each scored the championship-clinching goal in the two previous title victories. And Lucas Roque, who was making his season debut after being out since the 2017-18 season, had a first-half assist before giving the Blast a 6-1 lead with the opening goal of the third quarter.

After tearing his ACL in early January 2018, Roque is healthy but said he needs time to shake off some rust.

“It’s different from practices and playing in a game,” he said. “Matches are different with heightened intensity and even though we have high intensity practices, the game is always different. So a couple more games and I think I’ll be where I want to be.”

Blast coach Danny Kelly was pleased to get the much-needed win, but still thinks his team not where they need to be.

Sonora (4-6) got two goals in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 6-3, the second coming with 2:37 to play before Donatelli closed out the scoring in the final minute.

“Honestly it was a win and we needed a win for sure. But we need to be better. There’s things we work on in training and then we get to the game and all of a sudden we have amnesia — we have to get better,” Kelly said, noting some poor decisions with and without the ball and players not where they needed to be in certain situations.

On Saturday, the Blast will face the San Diego Sockers in a game that will feature the most storied franchises in professional indoor soccer. Game time at SECU Arena is 6:05 p.m.

“We’re looking forward to it. Obviously it’s a classic rivalry from the old days of the Major Indoor Soccer League. San Diego is a very good team, so we’re going to have our work cut out for us,” Kelly said.

San Diego@Blast

Towson’s SECU Arena

Saturday, 6:05 p.m.

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