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Machel Millwood Leads Blast to Big Win Against Wave

Feb. 18’s Blast game against the Milwaukee Wave was a must-win game in many ways for Baltimore’s indoor soccer team. In front of a record crowd of 9,644, the Blast stepped up to the plate to grab the 17-13 win.

Machel Millwood led the charge, scoring a hat trick, one to start the Blast off and two in the third quarter to give them the lead.

“I knew I had to step up tonight,” Millwood said. “We have so many guys that can step up offensively on any given night and all we need is that one guy to put his foot forward. I thought tonight they were backing up, they weren’t trying to attack me when I had the ball offensively. … They were backing up and giving me shots so I was taking them.”

For a defense that has had spotty moments throughout the season, they played well Saturday night, holding the Wave to just four in the first half and just seven before the Wave put in a sixth attacker with three and half minutes left to go in the game.

“This was a big game for us,” coach Danny Kelly said. “We had been on a two-game skid where we knew we hadn’t really played all that well, especially on the defensive side of the ball, we gave up an average of 20 points over two games. We knew we had to come out and make sure we were fundamentally sound and doing all the little things on the defensive end to win this game, especially against a team like Milwaukee, defending champs, first place and we’re still trying to catch them for the best record. Tonight was a huge game for us.”

The Blast sit at second place in the league but already clinched the Eastern Division title Feb. 1. It is up to the Blast and the Wave to decide who will ultimately get home-field advantage for the playoffs. The team with the best record gets the crown.

Currently, the Wave are 16-5 while the Blast are 15-6. A couple of wins and a couple of losses could shift the wind in the Blast’s direction. The Blast entered Saturday’s game tied 1-1 in games against the Wave so a tiebreaking lead in games played in the matchup could be important if the overall records are tied.

“Tonight we had to bring it just to show Milwaukee we can beat them,” Millwood said. “The crowd was great so we had to go out there and put out our best effort and it worked out well.”

The Wave got two shots off easily to start the game, including one on a penalty. But less than a minute after the second, Millwood got his first shot with some keen footwork to allude the defender and a straight shot to the upper left in the goal.

The second quarter was scoreless and Millwood broke the drought with five minutes left in the third to give the Blast their first lead of the game, a strike from the right to the back of the net. With Wave on the power play, Milwaukee had a chance to score, but Sagu managed a save from the ground.

Millwood scored perhaps his prettiest goal with 1:38 left in the third. On his way to the ground, Millwood got a nice swinging kick on the ball and with just 27 seconds left in third, Max Ferdinand took advantage of the goalie post-diving catch attempt to give the Blast the 10-4 lead.

In the fourth quarter, J.T. Noone scored his 14th goal of the season, wide open in the lane for the 12-4 lead at 5:12. Forty-four seconds later, Wave Jonathan Greenfield hit a three-point goal to the back of the net; Sagu dived the other direction.
Ptah Meyers looked to take a shot with 6:31 to go and deflected to the side of the defender instead, giving him a cleaner shot at the goal and the 14-7 lead for the Blast.

The Wave, seemingly getting nervous, came out with the sixth attacker. Sagu’s save richocheted of him and into Giuliano Oliviero, who headed it back in for the goal to make it 14-9 with 2:44 left in the game.
Meyers on Oliviero smacked a shot to the left post that rebounded into the goal with 2:20 left in the game, 14-11.

“I’ve been around this game too many years, things happen, deflections, three-point goals, the game is never over until that clock says 0:00,” Kelly said. “It’s always been a nervousness when a team pulls a sixth attacker and there’s not much time left and they’re within striking distance of the lead. There were never easy moments there.”

Sagu made two big saves in the last two minutes to maintain the lead and with 29.2 seconds left, Shaun David kicked a shot from more than midfield that rolled smoothly into the open goal, 17-11. Hewerton Moreira hit a goal to the top of the left post from the right post with 19.2 seconds left, but the game had already been decided.

The Blast play three more regular-season games against Norfolk, Wichita and Syracuse. Their final home game against Wichita will be March 2.

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