The Blast ended the 2011-12 MISL regular season with an 18-6 record and a firm hold on the Eastern Division regular season title en route to the upcoming Eastern Division Finals against the Rochester Lancers. The 2012 postseason will be the Blast’s fifth-consecutive trip to the playoffs and the 16th trip to the postseason in 20 years.
The Blast and Lancers met four times in the regular season with Baltimore earning four wins, two at home and two on the road, and outscoring Rochester, 49-25. Twelve Blast players scored against the Lancers, including Adauto Neto who led the way with five goals and three assists (13 points). Neto, who recorded a hat trick in Baltimore’s 23-9 win on November 26, was one of four Blast players to record at least one point in all four games against the Lancers (Max Ferdinand, Machel Millwood and Mike Lookingland were the others). Andrew Hoxie led the Lancers with three goals and one assist (seven points) against Baltimore while Doug Miller and Jeremy Ortiz each recorded four points in the series.
Max Ferdinand, who earned the MISL Assists award for leading the league with 25 assists, led the Blast with 72 points, followed by Machel Millwood (70 points), Adauto Neto (49) and Carlos Garcia (48). In goal, Sagu went 15-5 on the season and earned the MISL’s points against average for his league-leading 9.61 PAA while Akira Fitzgerald went 3-1. The team featured eight new players this year, five of whom were new to the indoor game. Veterans Ricardinho (five goals, five assists), Ptah Myers (four goals, three assists) and Shaun David (10 goals, seven assists) joined the Blast after spending previous years with a variety of other squads. Rookies J.T. Noone (14 goals, three assists), Stephen DeRoux (10 goals, one assist) and Mike Deasel (14 points, five blocks) all made their way into the lineup and made an immediate impact on the team. Like in seasons past, the Blast had success on both ends of the field, recording the second-most goals of any team (165) and allowing just 108 goals, the fewest allowed by any team this season.
The Lancers went 11-13 overall and 5-7 on the road, finishing the regular season seven games behind the Blast. The team was led by the MISL’s second-leading scorer Mauricio Salles who recorded 81 points. Veteran Doug Miller was second on the team with 66 points, followed by Lubo Kocic’s 49 regular-season points. Rochester’s roster was bolstered late in the season by the addition of John Ball who started his indoor career in 1996-97 with the Cleveland Crunch. Ball recorded five points and five blocks in five games. In goal, Patrick Hannigan went 10-10 on the season, allowing 122 goals and a 13.12 points against average. Hannigan was in goal for each of the four regular-season games against the Blast. All 5,322 Blast fans tonight are looking for a big Playoff win.
The first quarter starts with several minutes of some good up and down the field play, with both teams missing some good scoring chances. With 7 minutes to go the Lancers get the first goal of the game to get an early 2-0. Blast play good aggressive soccer the rest of the quarter but cannot get on the board and the quarter ends 2-0 Lancers.
The second quarter is another well played hard fought quarter with no scoring. That is until with 2:30 left in the quarter. Blast midfielder was NOT going to be denied by Lancers goalie Patrick Hannigan, who is playing great. Max had a really good scoring opportunity stopped and then seconds later has a great scoring opportunity stopped, only to score on his third scoring opportunity in seconds to finally get the Blast on the scoreboard at 2-2. That scoring play started an incredible final 2 minutes of the first half, with nothing but aggressive play up and down the field, all culminating in nothing but missed scoring opportunities for both teams. Halftime score is 2-2.
Lancers goalie Patrick Hannigan is the story of this game. At halftime the Blast had 18 shots to the Lancers only getting 8 shots. Yet Patrick Hannigan is keeping the Lancers tied at 2. The third quarter is half way through and Hannigan makes back to back AMAZING saves. The Blast have dominated play this quarter and cannot score. With 3:36 left in the third Blast defender Mike Lookingland gets a re¬start goal and the Blast get their first lead of the night at 4-2. The Lancers haven’t had any offense for 2 straight quarters and they need to find some, fast. The quarter ends with the Blast ahead 4-2. The Blast have 28 shots through 3 quarters.
The final 15 minutes start and the Lancers get a little offense going. Problem is the Blast have Sagu and the Lancers can only get a couple of good scoring opportunities but no goals. At the 12:04 minute of the quarter Blast forward JT Noone gets a goal and gives the Blast a 6-2 lead. With 8:22 left in the game the Blast get a break away opportunity and Lancers goalie commits a hand penalty outside the box giving the Blast a penalty shot. Forward Max Ferdinand scores and the lead grows to 8-2. With 2 minutes left in the game it turns ugly. Lancers Salles commits a striking penalty, he hit a Blast player right in the head. So the Lancers are down a man and 6 points. Before play starts again Salles is thrown out of the penalty box and out of the game. Of course the Lancers cannot do it and the game ends 8-2 with the Blast winning. The Lancers turned in an ugly ending to the game.
The Blast play the Lancers in Rochester Monday night and if they win they move on to the Championship round next weekend.