The Blast impressed in winning its first three games of the Major Indoor Soccer League season, but the team knew Friday night's visit from the two-time defending league champion Milwaukee Wave would provide a greater assessment of where it stood in the early season.
The answer was far more impressive.
Sharing the ball on offense and getting a second straight sparkling performance from rookie goalkeeper William Vanzena, the Blast took charge early and never wavered in a 15-4 win before an announced 4,895 at 1st Mariner Arena.
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1st Mariner Arena, 201 W Baltimore St, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA
The Blast got goals from seven players, with the first five coming off assists.
"It was a great team performance," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "Holding a team like Milwaukee to four points takes an unbelievable team effort. From the goalkeeper on out, we played really well. … I learned we're capable of a lot. I knew over the course of the first three games I knew we were still capable of more."
Vanzela, in his second career start, finished with 14 saves to frustrate the Wave, which didn't score in the second half. Mike Lookingland, Max Ferdinand and Tony Donatelli each contributed one goal and one assist as the first-place Blast improved to 4-0. The team travels to Rochester today to face the Lancers at 7 p.m.
"The team was organized and everybody was behind the ball, so it made it easy for me," Vanzela said through an interpreter. " I trained the whole week [at 1st Mariner Arena], so I felt real confident with everything."
In recent years, it's been rare to see the Wave being outworked, outsmarted and not in control of a game. But that was the case Friday, with the Blast taking the initiative early with selfless play on offense and holding strong with an organized front and the strong effort from Vanzela. It's the second straight game Vanzela has limited the opponent to a measly four points, his first win coming by a 10-4 count against the Syracuse Silver Knights last Saturday.
In taking an 8-4 lead at the half, the Blast made better use of its scoring chances. The Blast made a concerted effort to work the corners offensively, digging out balls and then sending them into the middle to build the lead.
Vanzela showed great distribution skills to jump-start Mike Deasel's opening goal 2:40 into the game. He sent a long outlet to the left corner for Machel Millwood, who used the wall to set up Deasel in front.
With the game tied at 2 late in the first quarter, Vanzela made a point-blank save on a shot from Wave midfielder Pablo, and then seconds later Lookingland found Tino Nunez for a goal from the right side to make it 4-2.
"For a guy who played his second game in the league, [Vanzela] was outstanding," Kelly said. " His distribution was outstanding. He made some great saves and seemed very in control of the situation."
The Blast again outscored the visitors 4-2 in the second quarter, getting goals from Tony Donatelli and Lucas Roque, with Vanzela again making all the saves he should for the 8-4 advantage at the break.
Adraino Dos Santos gave the Blast a 10-4 lead with the lone goal in the third quarter, then Ferdinand and Lookingland put the game away with late goals with the Wave using an extra attacker.