With just two regular-season games remaining, the Eastern Division regular season champion Baltimore Blast control their postseason destiny. Two weekend wins would secure home-field advantage through the postseason, should the Blast beat the Lancers next week in the Eastern Division Finals to advance to the MISL Championship.
Friday night’s game against the Wings will be is the Blast’s last home game of the regular season and the second and final match this season against Wichita. The Blast previously beat the Wings, 12-6, in Wichita on November 19 when Neto scored a three-point goal and added two assists.
The Blast is led by Machel Millwood who has 69 points, followed by Max Ferdinand (61 points) and Adauto Neto (47); Carlos Garcia (44 points) also ranks among the top 25 point scorers in the MISL. In goal, Sagu is 13-5 on the season and Akira Fitzgerald is 3-1.
Despite being a first-year MISL team, the Wichita Wings squad features multiple experienced indoor soccer players including Jamar Beasley (55 points), Victor Quiroz (36), Frederico Moojen (33) former Blast goalkeeper Sanaldo (7-12 on the season). Coached by former Wings standout LeBaron Hollimon, the Wings have been eliminated from playoff contention and are on a five-game losing streak. Wichita has not won a road game since their only road win of the season, a 10-9 victory over the Comets on January 14. The Wings will end their 2011-12 MISL season Sunday in Norfolk.
Tonight’s attendance of 8,125 appears to be in for a real good hard fought game tonight. It is always fair to add that 8,125 in attendance is NOT the way the Baltimore Orioles do attendance. There are actually that many people here tonight in a 50 year old Arena. Put on good family friendly Championship level sports and the city of Baltimore will come out and watch.
As the game gets started the Blast waste no time in getting on the score board. 23 seconds into the game Blast forward Shaun David scores and gives the Blast a 2-0 lead. The fast start was matched by the Wings with 12:30 left in the first quarter. Wings Midfielder Bryan Perez tied the game at 2-2. The first quarter starts to play out like a good game between 2 good teams. Lots of play up and down the field. The Blast score at 11: 25 on one of the best goals of the year. Blast midfielder Max Ferdianand shots the ball beside the goal and Blast forward Carlos Garcia takes the ball right out of the air and score to take the score to 4-2 Blast. With 3 seconds to go in the quarter Blast forward Max Ferdianand scores to give the Blast 6-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter starts off with continued even play by both teams. With 9:00 minutes left in the quarter the Wings goalie makes a fatal mistake and clears a ball directly to Blast forward Adriano Dos Santos and he scores to make the lead 8-2 Blast. With 3 minutes to go in the quarter Blast forward Carlos Garcia gets a 2 minute penalty for striking. The Wings have to set a score before halftime and this penalty will be their best shot. And they do. Wings score with 15 seconds left in the power play and the score is 8-4 Blast. The Blast score with 16 seconds to go in the half and its 10-4 at halftime. This has been a well played but low scoring quarter. It should lead into a great second half.
A quick side note about the halftime entertainment. Tonight was the annual celebrity soccer match and wnst’s own Glenn Clark played. His team won 4-0 and it doesn’t appear anyone got hurt. The entire event was very fun and should remind anyone who saw it that 35 years old isn’t 22 years old.
Halfway through the third quarter the Wings get this game very exciting again with a 3 point goal by Bryon Perez and its 10-7 Blast lead with lots of soccer remaining. The Wings respond by immediately getting a penalty holding and the Blast get a 2 minute power play. Blast forward Neto scores on the power play and takes the lead back up to 12-7. That was a critical goal because 1 minute later the Wings score again on a fabulous break away goal and its 12-9 Blast. This has turned into a very exciting third quarter. Moments later the Blast get a 3 on 2 breakaway and Blast defender Stephen DeRoux scores to bring the lead up to 14-9. Then it happened. With a little over 1 minute to go in the quarter Blast forward Carlos Garcia got off a beautiful bicycle kick on goal. It hit the boards and Max Ferdinand put the rebound in for a goal. Best goal of the year. The third quarter ends with the Blast holding a 16-9 lead. That was by far one of the best quarters of the year.
The Blast start the fourth quarter off with 1:50 left on a power play. The perfect way to start a final quarter already with a 7 point lead. The Wings hold off the penalty play but 2 minutes are already gone and the Blast still have a 7 point lead. Of course that lead isn’t big enough for Blast forward Max Ferdinand who scores with 12 minutes to go in the game to give the Blast a nice 18-9 lead. The Wings respond by getting a little dirty and commit another penalty that results in another 2 minute power play. DUMB. Blast midfielder Max Ferdinand has 5 assists tonight. The Wings scored a long 3 point goal off a restart with 6:37 left in the game and the score is 18-12 Blast. With 3:30 left in the game the Wings pull their goalie and gain that important 6-5 field player advantage. The brings all of the remaining possession of the game to the Wings, but allows the Blast to have a potentially easy quick attach goal. None of that happened. Blast win 18-12.
I hope to see you all back here on Saturday March 10th to help the Blast host the first round of the MISL playoffs.