The Baltimore Blast used a second-half surge in Nov. 19’s home opener against the Chicago Riot to come out with the first win of the season, 10-6.
Forward Machel Millwood’s two goals and back-to-back shots in the third quarter were the building blocks to extending a lead in front of 8,116 of the Blast’s home fans.
Millwood’s first goal was the first of the night for the Blast. Down by two points, Millwood caught a pass off Carlos Garcia to find the back of the net. His second came in the fourth quarter on a fast break up field and a shot to the left side of the net.
Millwood had quite a few one-on-one runs upfield that he just couldn’t convert, which many of the Blast goal scorers were having problems with. The Blast had 38 shots on the night, 15 in the first quarter.
“As a player especially, it’s always, if you miss a shot, it’s normal, especially in the indoor game,” Millwood said. “The next time you turn around, you’re going to have another shot to score a goal. We just always have to know that goals come easy. We just have to get ourselves in the right position to score goals, and if we miss, just knowing that a couple seconds later, we could be in the right position for another chance.”
They also had 16 shots in the third quarter and defensively held the Riot to just one. Their second-half energy not only gave them the boost to make goals, but also to prevent them. Until the last three seconds when Riot midfielder Semir Mesanovic found the back of the net to lessen the score.
“The first half was just not good. In all facets of the game, we just weren’t good. Fundamentally we weren’t good, we were passing the ball to them which is never a good thing,” head coach Danny Kelly said. “I understand it’s the first game, we have some new guys in there, it’s going to be a bit of an adjustment period. But, for me, the first half wasn’t good enough.
“Second half, we came out and played more like how we want to play as a team. Played better defensively, didn’t expose ourselves by a tackle with too many guys, because we know if we defend well as a team, we’re going to create opportunities for ourselves on the offensive end.”
The Blast’s other two shots came from Guiliano Celenza in the second quarter off a penalty kick from Pat Healey for the 4-4 tie leading into the halftime break.
The other was from newcomer Worteh Sampson, who had been making shots all evening and finally hit a straight one down the pipe with 7:51 minutes into the third quarter. Ten seconds later, Max Ferdinand hit another straight shot, this time to the top left corner of the goal for the 8-4 lead.
“We had three times as many shots as they did and we just couldn’t find the back of the net,” Millwood said. “We’ve been practicing for four weeks together. We know each other well so far. This is just the first game, so we have to work out the kinks as far as what we have to do to in order to win games and what we have to do to score goals.”
The Blast play their next home game Dec. 11 against the Missouri Comets.