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Blast Rookie Goalkeeper, Great Start in Blast Win

Akira Fitzgerald, starting his first home game for the Blast, helped put the team in a good place in their division before their second game of the weekend Jan. 27, beating the Norfolk SharX, 16-10, to end their series with the Norfolk team.

“Good win,” coach Danny Kelly said. “I thought we played well for the most part. We’re finishing, we’re creating chances. At times in the past where we struggled to play against teams that are kind of sitting back in, we’re finding ways to penetrate and create opportunities without being impatient with the ball.”

Fitzgerald, a rookie goalie for the Blast, played exceptionally well, with 10 saves on the night.

“It was fun, getting my first start at home, playing in front of friends and family, stuff like that,”
Fitzgerald said. “It was good, thought I played pretty well. Still gave up too many goals, but something to work on. It’s a team effort, and we got the win so it’s good.”

Sagu will play in Saturday’s game and there is no talk of replacing the veteran goalie, but Fitzgerald’s performance was proof the Blast have a good backup and a key playmaker on their squad.

“He’s got all the qualities of a very good goalkeeper,” Kelly said. “He’s a good shot-stopper, he communicates well, he distributes well, he doesn’t get frazzled. I thought he had a very good performance tonight in a game that we had to do well in.”

The Blast played well for three quarters. After getting up 10-2 in the third quarter, the Blast began to sit out their laurels, allowing Norfolk to get back into the game and catch up to within three points.

Warren Ukah made an attempt but the goalie came out to block it. On his way back, Carlos Garcia grabbed the rebound at centerfield and hit it to the far side of the goal without time for the goalkeeper to save it for the first goal of the night. Machel Millwood, 49 seconds later, took a fast break downfield and shot high through two defenders.

Millwood scored his second goal of the evening late in the fourth quarter off a shot attempt by J.T. Noone didn’t quite make it. Millwood wasn’t the only one to come one score short of a hat trick.

Max Ferdinand had a fast break up field and passed left to Noone with two minutes left in the first and Noone made an easy shot into the goal with the goalkeeper out in the third quarter for his second goal.

Off a penalty kick for the Blast, Ferdinand kicked it left to Mike Lookingland who hit the back of the net. Lookingland also got the final score of the game on another penalty kick involving four players passing it around the outer rim before Lookingland made the shot.

Adauto Neto and Ferdinand each added a goal as well.

“It was a battle,” Lookingland said. “We came out, looked really good the first quarter and then they started to work a little bit harder, make it a little more difficult, scored a couple goals, but I think we rebounded well, coming out at halftime. They’re a very chippy, hardworking team. We just dug in and found a way to add a couple more goals and kind of put them in the rearview mirror a little bit as the fourth quarter went on.”

The Blast play Rochester Jan. 28. The Lancers are ahead of Syracuse in the Eastern Division standings by 1.5 games, but the Blast are first in the division by five games. Beating Rochester would almost guarantee the Blast a playoff appearance.


One response to “Blast Rookie Goalkeeper, Great Start in Blast Win

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