With another stout defensive effort and a resourceful offense, the Blast continued its climb in the Major Indoor Soccer League last night.
The team never trailed, registered its fourth consecutive victory and moved into a tie for fourth place by beating the Chicago Storm at 1st Mariner Arena, 18-8.
The clinching scores came in the third period when the Blast (10-7) stretched its lead to eight points, killed a Storm power play and held Chicago scoreless.
A Blast defense that has allowed just 46 points in the past seven games limited the Storm (11-7) to two goals until the final minutes and parried the only serious Storm run, which shaved the lead to one in the second quarter.
Giuliano Celenza and Denison Cabral (who had one from long range) each scored two goals to lead the Blast offense in the team's eighth home victory in 10 starts.
"It's very important to win these at home," Celenza said. "Eight of our last 12 are on the road, and we haven't been the best road team the last couple of seasons [currently 2-5 away from 1st Mariner]."
Said Cabral: "You used to have to go into Cleveland and Milwaukee and have to play your absolute best to win there. That's the way we want teams to think coming in here."
The Blast added to its lead when Mike Lookingland hit a ball into an unprotected goal while the team was short-handed, and Robbie Aristodemo added a two pointer, making the lead 18-5 before Stephen Armstrong finished the scoring with a three-point goal, making him responsible for every Storm point.
"We did what we had to do," Blast coach Danny Kelly said. "We played good, solid defense for most of the game; we're containing a lot of good players. When we play that kind of defense, we can play with anybody."
The Blast got off to a rousing start, thanks to several lapses in concentration by Chicago goalie Jeff Richey.
First, Aduato Neto punched the ball through Richey's legs into the goal after receiving a pass from Garcia a minute and 35 seconds into the game. Little more than a minute later, Celenza made it 4-0 when he caught Richey out of the goal and Celenza tapped it home.
The lead grew to six points two minutes later when Blast goaltender Sagu made a pinpoint outlet pass to Celenza, who scored against a helpless Richey.
Chicago fought back with two consecutive goals on free kick situations with both goals going to Stephen Armstrong.
But the lead was restored to four points at the 4:00 mark when Cabral connected with the left foot on an assist by Garcia.
Chicago 2 3 0 3 -- 8
Blast 6 3 4 5 -- 18
First quarter: 1. Blast, Neto (Garcia), 1:35; 2. Blast, Celenza (unassisted), 2:46; 3. Blast, Celenza (Sagu), 4:41; 4. Chicago , Armstrong (Farias), 12:33. Penalties: C, Rivera, 6:46. Second quarter: 5. Chicago, Armstrong (unassisted) (3 pt. goal), 0:27; 6. Blast, Cabral (Garcia) (3 pt. goal), 4:00. Third quarter: 7. Blast, Cabral (Wakefield), 10:01; 8. Blast, Gonzaga (unassisted), 12:21. Penalties: B, Garcia, 5:52. Fourth quarter: 9. Blast, Lookingland (unassisted) (3 pt. goal), 11:52; 10. Blast, Aristodemo (Wakefield), 13:39; 11. Chicago, Armstrong (unassisted) (3 pt. goal), 14.21. Penalties: C, Armstrong, 6:14; B, Garcia, 10:12. A--5,347.
Matchup -- Orlando (3-16) at Blast (10-7)
Site -- 1st Mariner Arena
Time -- 7:35
TV, Radio -- Maryland Public Television Digital, 680 AM
Outlook -- The Blast meets an improved Orlando club that has won three straight after opening the season with 16 losses in a row. The Sharks, who have lost twice to Baltimore, are still last in the nine-team MISL and are almost certainly one of three teams that won't make the playoffs. J.P. Rodrigues tops the Shark attack with 27 points and Sean Boney, who joined the roster late, has 14 in seven games. It is Boy Scout night at the arena.