Late en­ergy not enough af­ter slug­gish start in home opener

Mil­wau­kee con­trols play through three quar­ters be­fore the Blast wakes up

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Glenn Gra­ham glenn.gra­ham@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Glen­nGra­hamSun

The Blast had a big crowd on hand for its home opener Fri­day night, un­veil­ing its 2015-16 Ma­jor Arena Soc­cer League cham­pi­onship ban­ner af­ter a ring cer­e­mony be­fore the game against the Mil­wau­kee Wave. And then the home team lay an egg. The Wave dic­tated play through the first three quar­ters, gain­ing a slim ad­van­tage and then hold­ing off a late push from the Blast to claim a 4-3 win be­fore an an­nounced 7,813 at Royal Farms Arena.

Just how bad was it for the Blast most of the way?

Trail­ing 2-1 af­ter one quar­ter, it didn’t have a shot on goal in the sec­ond quar­ter. Up 3-1 go­ing into the third quar­ter, the Wave scored 17 sec­onds into play; the Blast could get just one shot on goal after­ward.

Trail­ing by three go­ing into the fourth quar­ter, the Blast fi­nally showed ur­gency in pep­per­ing the Wave (1-1) with 11 shots. The home team got goals from An­drew Hoxie and Tony Donatelli and had 3:22 left to come up with the equal­izer, but it never came.

Mil­wau­kee goalie Josh Le­mos had nine of his 13 saves in the fi­nal quar­ter, ston­ing Juan Pereira’s at­tempt in front with 55 Fri­day, 7:35 p.m. sec­onds left to se­cure the win. For­mer Blast player Max Fer­di­nand led the Wave with one goal and two as­sists.

“We just didn’t come out with a lot of en­ergy, which is un­ac­cept­able in the home opener like that. I don’t know what the rea­son was, but that was the sec­ond game in a row where our first quar­ter wasn’t up to par and we got be­hind the eight ball,” said Donatelli, a cap­tain.

The Blast (1-1) re­turns to Royal Farms Arena on Fri­day to take on the ex­pan­sion Florida Trop­ics.

For a sec­ond straight game, the Blast started slow. In last week­end’s sea­son opener at Har­ris­burg, the Heat had a 2-1 lead late in the sec­ond quar­ter be­fore the Blast got on track with three goals in the fi­nal three min­utes of the first half to start a run of eight straight goals in an 11-6 win.

With the big crowd Fri­day, the Blast had ev­ery rea­son to be ex­cited and play en­er­gized from the start, but it didn’t hap­pen.

“We def­i­nitely lacked a sense of ur­gency,” coach Danny Kelly said. “Some­times big nights can lull you into a sleep, so to speak. But no ex­cuses: We didn’t play well. Pe­riod.”

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