Down one game in the Eastern Division championship, the three-time defending champions rallied for a 7-3 win in Game 2 and got a goal from veteran defender Adriano Dos Santos with a 1:33 remaining in the ensuing 15-minute mini-game to advance with a 2-1 victory.
Utica City’s Bo Jelovac quieted the crowd with a goal with four minutes to play. The Blast pressed on, but couldn’t come up with the final answer as the visitors tacked on two goals in the final minute for a 12-9 win before an announced crowd of 2,926.
The defending Major Arena Soccer League champion Blast showed their typical resiliency in reaching the conference final, going to Harrisburg on Wednesday and beating the Heat twice to come back for the Eastern Division series win.
It had been a long time since the defending Major Arena Soccer League champion Blast were totally overmatched. But that was the case in Milwaukee on Jan. 21, when the Wave claimed a comfortable 7-2 win to improve to 2-0 against the Blast this season. The Blast rebounded with a 10-1 home win against the lowly St. Louis Ambush on Sunday.
The Blast were put to the test by the visiting Heat for most of Saturday night's Major Arena Soccer League game, leaning on their power play and defense early before a sudden burst of offense in the fourth quarter secured a 5-2 win before an announced 5,102 at Royal Farms Arena.
For the first time since joining the Major Arena Soccer League in the 2014-15 season, the Blast is not in first place in the Eastern Division. While the defending league champions were falling to the Milwaukee Wave, 4-3, in their home opener last Friday night, the expansion Tropics were rallying to stun the San Diego Sockers, 6-5, in their first game, thus claiming the top spot in the division.
The Blast announced its 20-game 2016-17 Major Arena Soccer League regular-season schedule Tuesday, opening the campaign on the road against the Harrisburg Heat on Nov. 5. The Blast's home opener, the first of 10 regular-season home games at Royal Farms Arena, is set for Nov. 11 against the Milwaukee Wave.
On Tuesday, the anticipated Eastern Conference championship series moves to Baltimore with the Blast owning a 1-0 series lead following a come-from-behind, 4-3 overtime win in Missouri on Thursday. If the Comets take Game 2, a 15-minute mini game would immediately follow to determined which team advances to the league championships series.
Tony Donatelli scored a go-ahead goal with 8:06 to play in the third quarter and the Blast's trademark defense handled the rest, blanking the Lancers in the entire second half to pull out a gutsy 6-4 win for the Eastern Division title in front of an announced crowd of 5,544 at Royal Farms Arena.
Seemingly in control going into the fourth quarter with a nine-point lead, the Blast had to hold off a valiant Wave comeback bid. Onua Obasi's goal with 2:39 to play secured a suddenly-thrilling 13-8 win in front of an announced crowd of 6,421 at Royal Farms Arena.
The inaugural Major Arena Soccer League season will include 23 teams competing in four divisions — Eastern, Central, Southern and Pacific. The Blast will play in the Eastern with the Detroit Waza Flo, Harrisburg Heat, Rochester Lancers and Syracuse Silver Knights.
Hale announced the creation of the Major Arena Soccer League at a news conference at Canton Dockside restaurant, a 24-team operation that includes teams from the Major Indoor Soccer League and the Professional Arena Soccer League.
The Baltimore Blast, along with five other former Major Indoor Soccer League teams, have reached an agreement to partner with teams from the Professional Arena Soccer League to create a new league that is expected to consist of 20-plus teams throughout North America.
To the rescue came William Vanzela, a native of Brazil who was in Italy establishing himself as one of the top goalkeepers in futsal, another indoor game played on a smaller field without the turf and side boards.
The Blast has had many offensive stars come and go over the course of winning six professional indoor soccer championships since 2003, but one thing that never leaves is the team's strong commitment to defense.
The Blast had the same three-point lead going into the fourth quarter of in Friday's game against Syracuse that as it did on the road Sunday against the same Silver Knights, who ended up coming from behind to win. It wasn't going to happen a second time.