Blast beats Syracuse in MASL opener

With a revamped defense, the Blast was expecting some growing pains at the start of the inaugural Major Arena Soccer League season.

Those aches, at least for starters, didn't last long.


In Saturday's season opener against the visiting Syracuse Silver Knights, the Blast gave up some shaky goals early and had goalie William Vanzela scrambling to make some big saves.

But the offense kept pace and when the defense tightened, the Blast ran away with a 16-7 win over the Silver Knights before an announced crowd of 7,812 at Royal Farms Arena.

"It took us a good part of the first half to get our legs under us and feel comfortable," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "Toward the end of the first half, we started to play a little better and got the game under control. I thought the second half, we played pretty well for a first game. ... Overall, I thought it was a good result considering we had a number of guys playing in their first indoor game."

Midfielder Max Ferdinand led the offense with three goals for seven points and Lucio Gonzaga added two goals for five points.

Vanzela made all eight of his saves in the first half.

The Blast (1-0), competing in the MASL's Eastern Division, will stay at home to play the Detroit Waza Flo at 7:35 p.m. on Friday. Detroit comes into the game also at 1-0 following an 8-4 Eastern Division win over the Harrisburg Heat.

After Slavisa Ubiparipovic scored a 3-point goal to give the Silver Knights a 7-6 lead with 9:03 left in the second quarter, the Blast took over, blanking the visitors the rest of the way while taking advantage of their scoring opportunities to claim the comfortable win.

The decisive moments came just before the half when the Blast got goals from Gonzaga, Diego Zuniga and Ferdinand — the last of those scores coming 31 seconds before intermission to give the Blast a 12-7 halftime lead.

"It was definitely key," Ferdinand said. "It was a close game and we were just starting to get our legs underneath us, so it was good to get two or three goals so we could just relax and play."

The Blast defense stayed organized in the second half, despite having three new starters and being without retired standout and former captain Mike Lookingland. Adriano Dos Santos scored the only goal in the third quarter and Ferdinand completed his hat trick in the fourth to seal the win.

In the first quarter, the Blast got 3-point goals from Gonzaga — 2:17 into the game on the power play — and Ferdinand to taking a 6-4 lead going into the second quarter.

The Blast, which also got one goal and one assist from Zuniga, had a 13-4 advantage in shots during the second half.

"That was a good game for us," Ferdinand said. "We started slow with it being our first game but it was great getting the win tonight and we'll get better by next week."

Note: Syracuse was without its top player, midfielder Kenardo Forbes, due to injury. Forbes was second in the now-defunct Major Indoor Soccer League in scoring last year.