The Blast were playing their second game in just 24 hours Saturday night against Syracuse, and some heavy legs may have led to a sluggish start.
After being held scoreless in the opening quarter, the Blast was able to rebound and pulled away from the Silver Knights for a 10-4 win before an announced 3,038 at 1st Mariner Arena. Baltimore also put together its best defensive effort of the early season and did not allow a goal in the second half. The Blast improved to 3-0, setting up an early-season showdown Friday against arch-rival Milwaukee, which beat them in last season's championship.
Max Ferdinand and Lucio Gonzaga led the Blast with two goals each. Gonzaga, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, has now scored in each of the Blast's three games this season.
"At first we wanted to sit back and get our legs a little bit," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "I thought we got into the game OK. As a whole, we know we can play better. It was one if those games where we just had to fight through things."
Syracuse (1-2) opened a 2-0 lead with three minutes left in the first quarter on a direct kick by Nelson Santana just outside the penalty area. The Blast tied the game just 27 seconds into the second quarter when Ferdinand scored off a pass from Adauto Neto.
The Blast then took the lead, 4-2, with 9:51 left in the half on a close-range goal by Machel Millwood, but Bozidar Jelovac tied it three minutes later. However, the Blast regained the lead, 6-4, on a nifty goal from outside the penalty area by Gonzaga and the score remained that way until halftime.
"I've had no problems [with the knee injury]," Gonzaga said. "Now, I am really healthy. I feel great. I am an experienced guy. I want to score every game."
The first half was played mostly even, with the Blast holding a slight advantage on shots, 14-12.
Gonzaga's second goal of the game four minutes into the third quarter gave the Blast an 8-4 lead and they continued to keep the pressure on Syracuse. The Blast won the majority of loose balls in the midfield, preventing Syracuse from developing many effective attacks. When the Silver Knights did get an open look, Blast goalie William Vanzela came up with a big save.
The Blast boosted their lead to 10-4 with 11:03 left in the game when Millwood found Ferdinand streaking down the right side for an easy goal from a couple yards away. Syracuse pulled their goalie with two minutes remaining, but it still could not solve the Blast's stalwart defense.
"They were very good marking, so they helped a lot, and that's why we only gave up two goals," Vanzela, a Brazilian, said through a translator. "You just have to get used to the speed of the ball and the turf. A goalkeeper always has to work on everything."
Syracuse -- 2 2 0 0 -- 4
Blast -- 0 6 2 2 -- 10
Scoring: 1. Syracuse, Santana, 2 pt., 11:49.
Penalties: Syracuse, O'Quinn, (handball), 11:57; Blast, Lookingland, (misconduct), 14:35.
Scoring: 2. Blast, Ferdinand, 2 pt., (Neto), :27; 3. Blast, Millwood, 2 pt., (Healey), 5:09; 4. Syracuse, Jelovac, 2 pt., (Ubiparapovic), 6:33; 5. Blast, Gonzaga, 2 pt., (Neto), 10:12.
Scoring: Blast, Gonzaga, 2 pt., (Nunez), 3:45; .
Scoring: Blast, Ferdinand, 2 pt., (Millwood), 3:57
Penalties: Blast Noone (holding), 14:43.
Shots on goal: Syracuse 24 ; Blast 23 .
Power-play opportunities: Syracuse 0-for-4; Blast 0-for-1.
Goalkeeper Saves: Syracuse, O'Quinn 9, -- ; Blast, Vanzela, 15-.
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