Baltimore Blast advance to the Ron Newman Cup Finals

by Jeff Husted

BALTIMORE, Maryland (March 16, 2018) - The Baltimore Blast advanced to their fourth straight Ron Newman Cup Finals by defeating the Milwaukee Wave 10-6 in front of 3,173 fans at the SECU Arena. The Blast's Jonatos Melo led all players with five points (two goals and three assists), while Vini Dantas led the scorers with three goals. 

Much of the pregame anticipation centered around each team's goalkeepers. Milwaukee's Josh Lemos and Baltimore's William Vanzela have each spent time recovering from injuries and made their first postseason appearance in tonight's match. 

Each goalkeeper was tested early as the teams combined for 18 shots in the first quarter alone. Baltimore was the first to convert a goal. The Blast were pressuring deep towards the Wave's goal, but the ball popped out past the top of the arc where Juan Pereira jumped onto it and tucked it into the left upper 90 corner of the goal.

Jonatas Melo put the home team up 2-0 midway through the quarter. Melo's goal started a flurry of five goals scored in the final five minutes of the period. Vini Dantas added two goals to Melo's while Daniel Mattos and Max Ferdinand each scored for the Wave. 

The second quarter was dominated by the Blast. Leading 4-2 at the beginning of the period, The Blast got goals from Tony Donatelli, Daniel Peruzzi and Adriano Dos Santos to take a 7-3 lead into halftime. Marcio Leite provided the only highlight of the quarter for Milwaukeee with an absolute rocket of a goal sandwiched in the middle of Baltimore's scoring.

Determined to get themselves back into the game, the Milwaukee Wave went on the attack to start the second half. 1st Team All-MASL midfielder Ian Bennett bookended the period with two goals, with an Angel Curiel score in between. Max Ferdinand, Bennett's teammate on the field and on the MASL's Best VI, provided assists for two of the goals.

As the teams went into the final period, the Baltimore Blast's lead had been whittled down to 7-6 and the Milwaukee Wave had momentum on their side. That all changed though when Dantas jumped in front of a Wave clearance attempt and headed a ball past a surprised Josh Lemos into an open goal a minute into the fourth quarter.

Daniel Peruzzi got the Blast's lead back up to two goals midway through the quarter and then Melo scored his second of the night against the Wave's sixth attacker to seal their victory and clinch their berth in the MASL's final game.

Baltimore will now await the winner of the Western Conference Championship game on Sunday. The Monterrey Flash host the San Diego Sockers at Arena Monterrey at 5:05 p.m. CST Sunday in a match that can be seen live on MASLtv, the streaming home of the Major Arena Soccer League.