Blast Sweep Weekend
By Andrew Primrose
Playing before a crowd of 6,473 fans on Military Appreciation Night, the Baltimore Blast hung on for a well-earned 8-7 victory Saturday against the second-place Rochester Lancers, 8-7. The win leaves the Blast one victory short of clinching the Eastern Division and all but assures a playoff berth.
After Friday's 18-10 offensive showcase against the Norfolk SharX, Saturday's affair took on a different tone from the beginning. Strong defense and goalkeeping were the story of the first quarter, with neither team able to score.
It wasn't until two minutes into the second quarter that Carlos Garcia scored the first goal of the game on a brilliant cross-field pass from Max Ferdinand to give Baltimore a 2-0 lead.
The rest of the second quarter was a defensive struggle until Rochester committed a mental error with only 21 seconds left during the half. The Lancers were called for too many men on the field and given a two-minute penalty. On the ensuing power play, Mike Lookingland scored his third goal of the weekend with just three seconds left during the first half to capitalize on the Lancers' mistake and give the Blast a 4-0 halftime lead.
The Blast's two-goal lead was short-lived though, as the Lancers continued a disturbing trend of the Blast surrendering quick goals coming out of halftime. This time it was Lubo Kocic who scored just 10 seconds into the third quarter to bring the Lancers back within two points. As he has done all season, veteran Blast forward Machel Millwood answered the challenge three minutes later to put the Blast on top, 6-2.
After a fourth-quarter Rochester score from Jacob Schindler brought the game back to a one-score contest, it was Blast rookie defender Mike Deasel who knocked in a crucial fourth-quarter shot to but the Blast on top by four, with nine minutes left to play.
Just more than a minute later, Carlos "Chile" Farias, with some help from the referees, made life a little more interesting at 1st Mariner Arena when he scored a three-point goal off of a restart to bring the game to 8-7. Replays at the arena showed that a Lancer player's arm deflected Farias' shot in the box, but the goal was allowed and the Blast were forced to defend their one-point lead for the last eight minutes of the game.
Blast goalkeeper Sagu had a superb game, but elevated his game to a whole other level during the last two minutes, including an absolutely ridiculous kick save on a shot with less than a minute left and the Blast escaped with their second consecutive home weekend sweep.
The Blast finish up their four-game home stand with a Wednesday night game against the Norfolk SharX. The game begins at 7:05 p.m. and can been seen on MISLLiveSoccer.com.
Posted Jan. 30, 2012