Blast Brace For MISL Championship
By Krystina Lucido
For a team that began 0-3 at home, the Baltimore Blast made it a long way.
Set to face the Milwaukee Wave March 16 at home for Game 1 of the championship series, the Blast are prepared to avenge the championship they lost last season to the same team and prove they should own the crown for the seventh time, to become the winningest team in professional indoor soccer.
"As we know, there's a lot of respect between the franchises,"' Milwaukee coach Keith Tozer said. "As Mike Lookingland said on Drew Forrester's radio show, 'There's a lot of respect, not a lot of love.' That definitely will come out this weekend."
Hard work, communication and standout seasons by some players earned the Blast and members of the Wave recognition when the two teams met at 1st Mariner Arena March 15, along with media and owners of both clubs.
Chris Economides, senior director of the Major Indoor Soccer League, was also in attendance to announce end-of-year honors. The Blast earned multiple awards, including individual player accolades for a defensive end that couldn't be topped.
Mike Lookingland won Defender of the Year for being the anchor of the stingiest defense in the league, which conceded only 108 goals. Blocking 30 shots and being sent to the penalty box only once all season, Lookingland provided leadership that was vital to the Blast's success.
During his seventh year with the Blast, he served as on-field captain.
Goalkeeper of the Year went to Sagu for the fourth time during his career and the second consecutive year. A nine-year Blast veteran, Sagu put away another successful season, leading the league in wins and points-against average by allowing an average of 9.61 points during 20 games. He also finished second in save percentage.
Midfielder Max Ferdinand earned the regular season assist champion crown, setting up his teammates 25 times during 24 games. The 2009-10 Rookie of the Year finished fourth in the league in scoring with 72 points and had a five-assist game against Wichita, the Blast's penultimate game of the season. Ferdinand was one of three Blast players to be named to the All-MISL First Team this season.
Geison of the Missouri Comets took home Most Valuable Player; Rookie of the Year went to Slavisa Ubiparapovic of the Syracuse Silver Knights and Coach of the Year went to Tozer. MISL award winners were selected through a vote by MISL team management and select media members.
Though awards have already been dished out, the season is not over. Forty-two players must refocus for the March 16 game at 1st Mariner Arena and the March 18 matchup at U.S. Cellular Arena in Milwaukee.
"Great season, but we're not done," Blast coach Danny Kelly said after congratulating his players on their awards and a great season comeback. "We've got some unfinished business to get to tomorrow night. Let's get it on."
2011-12 All-MISL First Team
GK -- Sagu, Baltimore Blast
D -- Mike Lookingland, Baltimore Blast
D -- Nelson Santana, Syracuse Silver Knights
MF -- Max Ferdinand, Baltimore Blast
MF -- Geison, Missouri Comets
F -- Mauricio Salles, Rochester Lancers
2011-12 All-MISL Second Team
GK -- Danny Waltman, Missouri Comets
D -- Leo Gibson, Missouri Comets
D -- Joe Hammes, Milwaukee Wave
MF -- Marcio Leite, Milwaukee Wave
F -- Byron Alvarez, Missouri Comets
F -- Machel Millwood, Baltimore Blast
2011-12 MISL All-Rookie Team
GK -- Eric Reed, Syracuse Silver Knights
D -- Stephen DeRoux, Baltimore Blast
D -- Gerson Dos Santos, Norfolk SharX
MF -- Kevin Ten Eyck, Wichita Wings
F -- Slavisa Ubiparapovic, Syracuse Silver Knights
F -- Nicolas Perera, Milwaukee Wave
Posted March 16, 2012