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Blast Follow Five-Game Win Streak With Losing Weekend
The Blast looked like they were on the road to success with a five-game road win streak, but they hit a big speed bump in back-to-back home losses Dec. 9 and 10.
The Blast hosted Missouri on Friday night, getting up to an 8-point margin before letting it go in the fourth quarter and losing 12-10. On a Missouri free kick, five Blast players lined up along the goal line, but a break in the wall of bodies gave Missouri the goal and the momentum to score 10 points in less than a quarter.
“I don’t know if it was a turning point, but it sure was a poor goal to give up,” head coach Danny Kelly said Dec. 9. “First of all, we can’t be behind the guy to receive that ball in that situation. We got to be in front of him. That’s stuff we talk about every game and then our wall splits and that’s inexcusable. You will not win games doing stuff like that. We can not give up those types of goals, period.”
And though Kelly said his team should have learned from their mistakes in Friday’s game, they let the lead slip away the next night against Syracuse. The Blast had let the Silver Knights walk away with the win in their home opener. The Blast came back to beat them in Syracuse, but couldn’t hold up again at First Mariner, losing 12-9 Dec. 10.
Mike Lookingland knew his team gave away Friday’s game, but chalked Saturday’s loss up to some bad breaks.
“It’s one of those days when it just wasn’t going to go your way,” he said Dec. 10. “Soccer gods are against us now, but we won five in a row, still in first place in the division so our focus hasn’t changed. We’re not going to dwell on it too much. It’s done. We’ll win the next one and move on from there.”
Lookingland’s confidence may be good in keeping his team’s spirits up and not letting them put too much pressure on themselves, but the Blast have a lot of work to do in order to play like a more cohesive team.
With a lot of new players who had never seen an indoor field before this season and veteran players picked up from other teams, the Blast’s first goal is to communicate and jell properly, which will only come with more practice time together and game experience. In addition, the defense has been lethargic at times and the offense has had difficulty converting on their open opportunities.
The team will focus on all facets of the game in practice, as well as stressing discipline, not forcing the ball and causing turnovers, finishing opportunities and learning how quickly a game can change.
“You’re going to run into adverse situations in every game you play, it’s how you react to that,” Kelly said. “We got some young guys on the team that this is their first taste of adversity in a professional environment. But as a group, we just need to be better. We’re finding ways to lose games.”
The good news is the Blast have some key pieces that have been helping to pick up the pace. Max Ferdinand recorded a hat trick in the Missouri game, scoring the only Blast points of the first half. One goal came in the second quarter on a pass from Adriano Dos Santos. Ferdinand collected the ball as it bounced off the boards, put a back spin on it behind him before bringing it forward for a clean shot through defenders for the 4-2 lead.
Ferdinand brought it to three with a deflection on the Blast’s defensive end that ricocheted to midfield and a waiting Ferdinand. Two defenders caught up to him, but he displayed some nice footwork to get off a kick to the left side of the net.
The Blast host Missouri again Dec. 16 before going on the road for two teams they have yet to play this season — Norfolk and Milwaukee.