On Sunday the Mississauga MetroStars were in Baltimore to take on the Blast in the first game of their four-game road trip to finish the season.
Without a few key players - Dwayne De Rosario and Marco Rodriguez in particular - the MetroStars traveled down south to Maryland to take on the three-time reigning champions. They were looking to spoil their opponents’ chances to win the Eastern Division - as the Blast and Utica City FC were both tied atop the division standings before the game.
Returning to action in this game was Josip Keran, who hadn’t played since a 9-5 loss in Harrisburg on February 24th.
The Blast got the scoring underway just 1:59 into the first quarter, as Andrew Hoxie lunged into the wall to get his foot on the ball. He went feet-first into the end boards, but managed to get his foot to it, redirecting it into the net.
Jonatas Melo doubled the lead later in the quarter, firing the ball between Adrian Becic's legs. He followed it up with another amazing celebration — he proposed to his girlfriend in the first game of the season — this time recreating the bobblehead that the team was giving away, running up to teammate Andrew Hoxie, putting on a sombrero and shaking their heads.
Tony Donatelli made it 3-0 after a giveaway from Becic was lofted into the air by him, finding a teammate who passed it across goal, leading to an easy tap in. It was the first goal in what turned out to be a huge game for him.
The first quarter was dominated by Baltimore, as the MetroStars looked slow, likely tired still from their 6-1 defeat to Utica City FC in Mississauga on Friday.
Mississauga started stronger in the second quarter, taking control of the ball and firing a lot of shots on William Vanzela's goal, but he was turning away everything that came at him.
The Blast took a 4-0 lead about 10 minutes into the quarter thanks to a stroke of luck. A shot from Tony Donatelli was going nowhere near the goal after a miskick but it struck Mo Babouli in the face, redirecting it into the goal.
In the final 90 seconds of the first half, the Blast found the back of the net twice. Jeremy Raley scored with 1:22 left, and Tony Donatelli completed his hat trick with 39 seconds left, giving Baltimore a 6-0 advantage going into the break.
With just under 4 minutes left in the third quarter, William Vanzela, the Baltimore goalkeeper, made arguably his best save of the night. Josip Keran took a shot on goal from the centre circle, forcing Vanzela to make a magnificent diving stop, diving to his right and fully stretching himself out to make the save.
The MetroStars finally ended the shutout about 40 seconds later, as Damion Graham tapped the ball home with 3:07 left in the quarter. After a long shot from Josip Keran was turned aside by Vanzela, Graham pounced on the ball, scoring his 15th of the season.
With about two and a half minutes left in the quarter, a handball outside the box by Adrian Becic resulted in a blue card and a penalty shot. Becic stepped up and made a big save to keep the MetroStars within 5.
On the resulting powerplay, however, Vini Dantas continued to dominate the MetroStars, scoring his 22nd goal of the season to bring the score up to 7-1 after three quarters.
The MetroStars started off strong in the fourth quarter, as Darren Chambers scored just 13 seconds after kickoff. It gave the MetroStars a sudden burst of energy, but it was too little, too late.
Andrew Hoxie scored a long distance goal 1:31 into the 4th quarter, giving the Blast a commanding 8-2 lead. Mississauga's Sebastian Lopez gave the ball away in midfield, and Hoxie just slid the ball along the ground, under Becic and between the defenders, into the goal.
With 4:51 left in the match, Dantas again found the back of the net, firing home another lethal shot from the edge of the neutral zone for his 23rd of the season.
The MetroStars now have a 4-17 record on the season, with three games remaining.
They are in Harrisburg on Friday, March 29th, and Utica on the 30th, before returning to Harrisburg on Saturday, April 6th to take on the Heat to finish the season.