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Blast score five goals in fourth quarter to cruise past Tropics, 7-1

Blast score five goals in fourth quarter to cruise past Tropics, 7-1

It took a good chunk of time — three-plus quarters — for the Blast to shake off the expansion Florida Tropics on Friday night. But once they did, it looked like typical Blast soccer.

Clinging to a one-goal lead, the defending Major Arena Soccer League champions enjoyed a five-goal outburst early in the fourth quarter to claim a 7-1 win before an announced 4,121 at Royal Farms Arena.

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Blast coach Danny Kelly liked what he saw in the fourth quarter.

"A sense of urgency every shift and guys making good decisions with the ball," he said. "Again, just playing hard, playing smart and I think we executed and I thought we did a very good job of that in the fourth quarter."

The Blast (2-1) got goals from seven players with midfielder Juan Pereira (one goal, one assist) sparking the pivotal fourth-quarter stretch.

With the Blast holding on to their 2-1 lead, Pereira made a run along the left boards before finding Jereme Raley in front for a two-goal lead with 12:41 to play. After Nelson Santana made it 4-1 a little more than a minute later, Pereira opened the floodgates with an unassisted goal for a 5-1 lead with 10:56 to play. Andrew Hoxie also finished with one goal and one assist and goalie William Vanzela made seven saves for the win.

The Blast travel to Florida on Dec. 3 to take on the Tropics (1-1) at 7:05 p.m. For now, Pereira and the team are going to celebrate Friday's win for a little while.

"For us, every single quarter has to be better and we have to work harder every single time. That's the key for us," Pereira said. "Every team comes here prepared to play us, so this was a really big game for us."

With a handful of newcomers and other young players stepping into bigger roles, Kelly was pleased to see Pereira, in his third season, step to the forefront in the big fourth quarter.

"That's what he's capable of and I'm hard on him because I know that's what he's capable of. It's not that he's struggled, but I need more from him," Kelly said. "He had some great plays and that's what I expect from him, that's what he's capable of and that's what he's got to expect from himself."

Rarely in recent years have the Blast come into a game with any hint of vulnerability, but last week's 4-3 home-opening loss against the Milwaukee Wave — it's first such defeat since falling to the Syracuse Silver Knights in the 2011-12 season — might have left some.

On Friday, relief didn't come until the fourth quarter and the first quarter produced frustration more than anything else.

Unlike last week's performance, when they fell behind and mustered only four shots in the first three quarters, the Blast came out energized and pressured the Tropics throughout the first 15 minutes. They peppered goalie Piotr Silwa with six shots and had others go high or wide.

The one problem? No shots found the back of the net with the game remaining scoreless going into the second quarter.

The Tropics added to the Blast's woes early in the second quarter when Lucas Teixeira attempted a far shot from that found its way to far post, caromed off goalie William Vanzela and in for a 1-0 lead 1:03 into the quarter.

The Blast responded with a goal from Jonatas Melo with 9:35 to play in the half and turned a giveaway by the Tropics into a Tony Donatelli goal less than two minutes later for a 2-1 halftime lead.

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It turned out to be the game-winner with the Blast successfully protecting the lead and pouring it on in the fourth quarter.

NOTE: The Blast announced they signed defender Diego Mayanga and goalkeeper Chris Fenner, capping their roster at 20. Mayanga, from Corona, N.Y., has extensive futsal experience. Fenner, from Manassas, Va., played at Towson University. Both were inactive for Friday's game.

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