The Baltimore Blast are champions . . . again. The team’s ruthless defense, fast-paced offense, and desire to, once again hoist the Ron Newman Cup drove them to a 4-3 victory over the Monterrey Flash at last night’s game in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. This win is the 10th in franchise history and the third Major Arena Soccer League championship win in a row.
“We’ve been doing it all season,” head coach Danny Kelly told The Sun. “We know wherever we go, we’re going to get everybody’s best shot and that’s the challenge we’ve embraced all season long. There was no fear coming to Monterrey. We just had to play, limit our mistakes and finish our chances when they came. I thought we played a pretty complete game.”
Goalkeeper William Vanzela, in his second game back from a groin injury that sidelined him in January, had a standout game with eight saves, including one game-winning protection during the final minutes. It was that performance that lead to Vanzela’s second MVP title.
“What we accomplished tonight is just unbelievable,” he wrote on Instagram. “For me, in the six years with the Blast, I have been in six finals, four championships, and two MVPs. I am so proud to be part of this incredible organization and of this team.”
In front of a crowd of nearly 9,000 fans, the defending champions dominated the first half of the game going into the break leading the Flash 3-0. Blast’s forward Vini Dantas kicked off the scoring in the first quarter with an assist from midfielder Tony Donatelli. Forwards Andrew Hoxie and Daniel Peruzzi also got in on the action, each scoring a goal to put the Blast up at halftime.
While the defense managed to keep the Flash at bay in the first half, the second half proved more troubling. Early in the third quarter, Monterrey’s Edgar Gonzalez was able to finally get the Flash on the scoreboard. Two late fourth quarter goals from Monterrey’s Efran Martinez and Lourenco Andrade shifted the once blowout into a nail biter.
It all came down to Vanzela needing to make one last save to secure another championship for his team. In the end, the Blast’s determined defense won the game.
“It’s very hard to win one time, even at a rec level as a kid,” Vanzela said. “But three in a row makes me speechless. We are a defensive team that cares more than anyone can think, and the result is in the picture. We are again, for the third straight time, the champions.”