The SharX, one of the four new MISL teams, started the season 0-9 and has a 3-13 record heading into Friday’s game against the Blast. One of Norfolk’s three wins was a 17-12 victory over Baltimore on January 12th in Norfolk. The SharX followed up the win over the Blast with a 12-11 win over Syracuse for two straight victories. Miguel Ferrer led Norfolk in the win over the Blast with a three-point goal and a two-point goal and Matthew Delicate scored the SharX lone goal last Friday. Ferrer leads the SharX in scoring with 28 points followed by Matt Clare (27 points) and Gersen Dos Santos (26 points). SharX Goalkeeper Jamie Lieberman (2-11) is 1-1 against the Blast and was last week’s MISL Player of the Week.
The Blast will take on the Rochester Lancers Saturday night on military appreciation night at 1st Mariner Arena. The Blast players will take the field in camo jerseys that fans can bid on throughout the game. Saturday will be the final regular-season meeting between Baltimore and Rochester, with the Blast having won each of the previous three games. The Lancers are led by Mauricio Salles who has 53 points and ranks second in the MISL in scoring. Veteran Doug Miller follows with 44 points and goalkeeper Pat Hannigan is 7-6 on the season.
The Blast is led by Ferdinand (42 points), Machel Millwood (40 points) and Adauto Neto (38 points). Tonight’s crowd of 5,764 is looking for the Blast to keep full command of the division and move one step closer to a playoff berth.
The game gets started and it is immediately obvious that the Blast are the better team. They have ALL of the possession and the the SharX are on their heels the entire quarter. Several good scoring chances by the Blast are wasted, but the pressure is relentless. Finally, with 8 minutes to go in the quarter Blast Carlos Garcia gets the scoring started and its 2-0 Blast. The SharX call a timeout to discuss how to let the Blast really beat them tonight. And it works as 1 minute later Blast forward Machel Millwood gets a great goal and its 4-0 Blast. It looks like the SharX have a great view of the game tonight, but they are not really putting any pressure on the home team Blast. With 2 minutes left in the quarter Blast midfielder JT Noone gets another Blast goal and its 6-0. I have seen lots of Blast soccer and I have never seen them dominate a quarter that this first quarter tonight. In fact the SharX had 2 shots, I don’t remember either, and the Blast had zero saves.
The Blast continue to dominate the second quarter and go through a period of getting good shots but not converting them into goals. After several close plays the pressure pays off. With 5 minutes to go in the quarter Blast forward Mike Lookingland takes a set piece restart and scores, putting the Blast ahead 8-0. The Sharx appear to be trying harder. That effort finally pays off for the SharX as the get on the score board with 2:10 left in the half to get the score to 8-2. That’s how the half ends with the Blast leading 8-2.
The Blast don’t waste anytime messing around as Max Ferdinand scores 30 seconds into the second half to make the score 10-2. The SharX get a tremendous 3 point goal with 10:50 left in the quarter and it’s now an uncomfortable 10-5 lead. With 8 minutes to go it gets worse for the Blast as the SharX get another goal and its 10-7 Blast lead. The Blast takes a timeout to collect themselves and that’s exactly what they do. With 2 minutes left in the quarter Blast midfielder JT Noone gets his second goal of the night and it’s a 12-7 Blast lead. JT Noone and Warren Ukah have been playing their best soccer of the season lately and this might be a sign that they are stepping up their overall play. In fact it’s getting more and more difficult to keep the both of them off the field. The quarter ends with the score 12-7 Blast.
The SharX decide that the best way to start the fourth quarter is to get a 2 minute penalty for tripping 19 seconds into the quarter. Brilliant. Neto makes them pay with and easy goal and its 14-7 Blast. At the 11:45 mark Blast goalie Fitzgerald uses his hands outside the box. However the SharX also commit a pushing penalty. The SharX get a penalty shot and the Blast commits another penalty. That shot is missed and it’s a 4 on 3 game for a couple of minutes with the SharX having the advantage. Never seen anything like this before. Of course the Blast kill the penalty and we are back at full strength with 9 minutes to go in the game and the Blast keep their 7 points lead. With 7:43 left in the game Blast forward Machel Millwood gets his second goal of the night and the score is Blast 16-7. With 5:58 Neto gets a 2 minute penalty for pushing and the SharX miss their third shootout of the quarter. Moments later they score and its Blast lead 16-10. Seconds later the SharX commit a penalty and 4 seconds into that penalty Blast defender Mike Lookingland scores his second goal of the night and its 18-10 Blast with 5 minutes to go in the game. With 2:11 left in the game the SharX commit another penalty. The game ends with the Blast ahead 18-10.