Garlic, silver bullets and kryptonite cannot stop the Baltimore Blast. They may seduce you into thinking you have them beat and just when you think things are going your way they turn the tables on you.
Baltimore lost Game 1 of the Ron Newman Cup Finals, and needed to beat Soles de Sonora twice in Centro de Usos Multiples in Hermosillo, where the home team had won their last 12 games.
Sonora even opened up a 6-3 lead in the third quarter of Game 2. The champagne was on ice, but Baltimore got goals from Vini Dantas and Tony Donatelli and Sonora countered quickly with a Franck Tayou goal to go up 7-5.
Andrew Hoxie showed off his target man skills taking a Jonatas Melo pass, pivoting and launching a shot into the upper corner to cut it to 7-6, which is how the third quarter ended.
Dantas scored again at 3:09 of the fourth quarter to tie it and the teams then went through an 11 minute standoff without a goal. Then things got uncanny.
Tayou put in a rebound of a Christian Segura shot with 18 seconds left in regulation to give the Soles an 8-7 lead. Tayou broke down in an emotional, prolonged goal celebration and it looked like Sonora had secured the championship that narrowly eluded them last year.
Not so fast. Just seven seconds later in a scrum Adriano Dos Santos appeared to make contact with the ball multiple times with his hand but the Blast and fate would not be denied. The sold out crowd and the Soles players fell silent and distraught.
In the overtime, it took just over two minutes for William Vanzela’s throw to flick off Dantas’s head just before what would have been a three line violation, onto a streaking Juan Pereira who beat Diego Reynoso to win Game 2 and advance to the mini game.
Sonora composed themselves and gained possession in the mini game. Maybe it was fatigue or bad luck, but Reynoso took a wild clear that hit the scoreboard with just over five minutes left. On the yellow line free kick Pat Healey shot wide and Dantas poked in the rebound to give the Blast their first lead during play of the entire series.
The top scoring Soles could not crack Vanzela and the Blast defense, and fell in the 15-minute mini game 1-0, making the Blast back-to-back champions and giving the city of Baltimore its 9th indoor title.
Dantas, who had five points in Game 2, and scored the game winner in Game 3, was named Finals MVP. He led all playoff scorers with 19 points.
The Blast finished the regular season 14-6, but their six losses equaled the amount of games they lost the prior three years combined. They overcame losing Game 1 at home to Harrisburg in the Division Finals. They rallied from 6-3 down to win Game 1 of the Conference Finals 8-7 in overtime over Milwaukee. They took all three series to the limit needing to win three mini-games, rising to the occasion when the pressure was on.
After the game Tayou, who was named league MVP for the second straight year, laid out flat on the field with his face in his hands. Several Blast players consoled him in a strong showing of mutual respect after a draining, emotional series.