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.
Every season, the Blast expects to challenge for the championship and this one is no different. Competing in the new 23-team Major Arena Soccer League, the Blast steamrolled the Eastern Division and comes into the postseason with an 18-2 record that has it in position to claim the franchise's eighth championship.
Forward Jamie Darvill and midfielder Juan Pereira each had hat tricks and defender Drew Ruggles scored a 3-point goal late in the second quarter to help the Blast past the Heat, 25-5, in front of a sparse crowd at Royal Farms Arena in snowy Baltimore.
After opening their first season in the new Major Arena Soccer League with 13 straight wins, the Blast went to the West Coast last weekend and didn't bring much offense in losses to the Las Vegas Legends (5-4 on Feb. 6) and San Diego Sockers (7-2 on Feb. 7).
Six of this weekend's eight state semifinal football games feature local teams aiming for berths in state championship games next Thursday, Friday and Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium. Here's what to expect:
The Blast had a convincing 16-7 season-opening win over the Syracuse Silver Knights on Saturday and will try to build on the effort against the Waza Flo, which previously competed in the Professional Arena Soccer League.
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.
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.
Rochester discovered why the Blast came into the matchup as the Major Indoor Soccer League's top defense. Goalie William Vanzela made 12 saves and the defense smothered the Lancers offense as the Blast scored a 17-2 victory before 6,986 at Baltimore Arena.
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.
The fourth-place Blast has an ideal opportunity to gain ground in the Major Indoor Soccer League with an away-and-home series against the last-place Roar this weekend, starting in Reading, Pa., on Friday night.
Mike Lookingland, a Fallston native and Loyola High graduate about to begin his ninth season with the Blast, has developed into the top defender in the Major Indoor Soccer League. As the team captain, he's now the face of the franchise as it begins defense of last year's MISL championship.