by Justin Bittner

Baltimore, MD (April 22, 2019) – The Blast advanced to the next round of the 2019 Ron Newman Cup Playoffs with the 7-3 win over Utica City FC in Game Two to force a mini-game. The Blast proceeded to complete the comeback with a 2-1 win in the mini-game, thanks to Andrew Hoxie and Adriano Dos Santos goals.

The Blast took the first lead of the game as Jamie Thomas played the ball off the boards and found Andrew Hoxie in front of goal to put the Blast ahead. Utica City FC would respond instantaneously as Mauricio Salles tallied his fifth goal in two games versus the Blast. Tony Donatelli would put the Blast back in the driver’s seat with his second goal of the postseason to put the Blast up 2-1. The teams played a patient style of soccer for the remainder of the first quarter. The Blast would maintain a 2-1 lead heading into the second quarter, outshooting Utica City 7-3.

Andrew Hoxie extended the Blast’s lead early into the second quarter as he picked the defender’s pocket and put the ball past the out-of-position goalkeeper for a 3-1 lead. Hoxie would collect his hat-trick minutes later as the ball spilled its way into the box for an easy tap-in and a 4-1 Blast lead. The Blast exuded confidence in their style of play, as they had little trouble passing the ball around and holding possession for a majority of the second quarter. Mohamed N’diaye drew a foul on the Utica goalkeeper in the box to set up a penalty shot for the Blast. Tony Donatelli fired the shot in the top right corner to extend the Blast’s lead to 5-1. The Blast entered the second half with a 5-1 lead over Utica City FC and a 11-4 lead in shots.

The Blast killed off an early Utica City powerplay, but an immediate turnover in the defensive area gave Ubiparipovic an easy look at goal to make the game 5-2 Blast. Utica City kept creating opportunities, but the Blast continued their stellar defensive performance by not allowing another goal in the third quarter. Both teams had chances cleared off the goal line by great defensive plays. Utica City would out shoot the Blast by 5-1 but the Blast held a 5-2 score line advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

The Blast began the fourth quarter with an early power play opportunity. The Blast continued to prod at the Utica City defense as Adriano Dos Santos put away a rebound from Andrew Hoxie’s pass to extend the Blast’s lead to 6-2. Utica City began to play a more aggressive offensive style, as their goalkeeper was often seeing playing up at the midfield line. The game was put away as Tony Donatelli received a pass from Mike Deasel, and Donatelli fired a first time shot past the Utica goalkeeper to extend the Blast’s lead to 7-2. Lucio Gonzaga entered the game for Utica City as the sixth attacker with just under five minutes remaining. Utica City would grab a consolation goal upon video review, but the Blast were able to hold onto the 7-3 victory in Game Two. Andrew Hoxie led the Blast in scoring with four points, while William Vanzela recorded nine saves in the Blast victory.

The mini-game began with the Blast maintaining their patient build-up play, waiting for the perfect opportunity. Utica City created several chances of their own, opting for a high-press. Utica City eventually got the goal through Bo Jelovac as his shot was deflected by a Blast defender on its way in. The Blast remained calm, as they continued to build up play and eventually found the equalizing goal. Andrew Hoxie tapped in the cross from Jamie Thomas to equalize with 5:30 remaining. Utica City would respond with several good chances of their own, but William Vanzela held strong. As time began to run out, Vini Dantas headed a clear across the box to Adriano Dos Santos, who scored the game-winning goal on the half-volley. The Blast would close out the mini-game with a 2-1 victory and advance to the Eastern Conference Final against the Milwaukee Wave. The game kicks off Sunday April 28 at 2:05 p.m. at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.