Blast Overwhelm Silver Knights
BALTIMORE, MD -- The Baltimore Blast lived up to its reputation as the class of the MASL, as the defending champions controlled play most of the match and earned a convincing 8-4 victory over Syracuse on Friday night.
After nearly a two-week layoff, the Blast (11-5) showed no signs of rust, being first to the ball most of the evening and never trailing in the match. If Baltimore defeats Syracuse (6-11) on Sunday, the Blast will clinch the top seed in the MASL Eastern division playoffs.
Syracuse still has a slim chance to make the playoffs, but it would need help from Florida and Harrisburg to do so. If all three clubs finish with nine wins, which would require the Silver Knights to win their remaining threematches, Syracuse could possibly make the playoffs on goal differential.
Blast forward Tony Donatelli factored in on five of Baltimore’s goals, scoring twice and providing three assists.While Donatelli earned the game’s first star, Blast defender Elton de Oliveira’s back-to-back goals in the second and third quarters turned a slim 2-1 lead into a manageable 4-1 advantage for Baltimore.
The Silver Knights pressed and chased as much as possible, but the crisp passing game of the Blast resulted in them dominating possession most of the evening. After Baltimore forward Andrew Hoxie scored from his own half late in the third quarter to put the Blast up 7-2, the Silver Knights needed a miraculous finish to get back in the game.
Baltimore opened a six-goal lead shortly in the fourth quarter on a goal by Donatelli. Syracuse opted to remove goalkeeper Bryan O’Quinn in favor of a sixth attacker. The strategy helped Syracuse cut the deficit to four goals with three minutes remaining, but the Silver Knights didn’t see enough of the ball to cut the deficit any further.
The bright spot for Syracuse was forward Slavisa Ubiparipovic, who recorded a hat-trick in the loss and earned the game’s second star. Two of his goals were of the highlight reel variety, shots in the upper corners of the goal that Baltimore keeper William Vanzela had no chance of stopping.
Silver Knights defender Jake Schindler also found a way to beat Vanzela in the fourth quarter, but Baltimore exhibited too much poise and class to be caught from behind. The Blast confidently kept possession of the ball to close out the match and set up a chance to clinch the division against Syracuse on Sunday afternoon at 4:05p.m.