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On loan to the San Diego Sockers, Blast star goalie William Vanzela brings home another MASL crown

Blast star goalie William Vanzela, who was on loan to the San Diego Sockers for the 2021 Major Arena Soccer League season, is a champion once again.

Vanzela was in goal Sunday as San Diego edged the Ontario Fury, 2-1, in the third and deciding 15-minute mini-game to claim the MASL’s Ron Newman Cup.

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He made four saves in the clincher with the Sockers getting the game-winning goal from Cesar Cerda with 54 seconds left to bring home the franchise’s 15th professional indoor championship.

Vanzela, who was making his seventh championship series appearance in his eight-year indoor pro career, has been a part of five championship teams — the first four with the Blast.

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After the Blast announced in January that they would not being playing this season because of COVID concerns, Vanzela was permitted to play for another team on loan. The Sockers proved to be a winning choice.

Sunday’s final — the Fury claimed a 6-5 win in Game 2 to force the mini-game — concluded an unconventional and unforgettable season for the Brazilian native who has become a fan favorite in Baltimore.

“This is a really special one because one moment you’re almost crying on your couch knowing that you’re not going to play for a year during COVID with the Blast not returning, and then the next moment you’re approached by some teams,” Vanzela said Monday. “I’m so happy I decided to play for San Diego because I knew I had the chance to win the championship. That’s what drove me here.”

For Vanzela, his fifth championship didn’t come easy, both on and off the field. Throughout the season, he was flying back and forth to Baltimore to spend time with his family. Due to COVID restrictions in California, the Sockers didn’t play any home games. And with the Sockers traditionally an offensive-minded team, Vanzela worked hard to help them commit to playing sound defense.

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After going 4-6 in the condensed regular season, the Sockers went 6-1 in the postseason to bring home the championship. Sharing time with goalie Boris Pardo, Vanzela went 6-3 overall and 3-1 in the playoffs, recording 46 saves with a 3.81 goals against average in the postseason.

“By the end of the season, we figured it out with our system. We started to defend … and that tells you we were ready for the playoffs,” Vanzela said. “We had a very good series against everybody, so I think at the end of the day we were the best team in the playoffs and we showed that and deserved to win.

“It was very hard, but I am a very focused person and I put it in my mind I wanted to get another championship and that’s what we did.”

In February, the Blast announced they expect to be back at Towson University’s SECU Arena for the start of the 2021-22 season in November.

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