SYRACUSE, N.Y. ?? The Syracuse Silver Knights found themselves in familiar territory Friday night, going down to the wire with the MISL juggernaut, Baltimore Blast. After erasing a 12-10 deficit in the fourth quarter, Baltimore went on to silence the 3,216 Syracuse faithful by finding an overtime winner just over one minute into extra time.
After last week??s crucial 15-14 come-from-behind win at Rochester, the Knights carried momentum into Friday??s match-up against the perennial powerhouse Baltimore Blast by storming out of the gates with an early 6-0 lead. The scoring started just :30 seconds into the game with the MISL??s third leading goal-poacher, Neto, volleying a pass off the boards from Slavisa Ubiparipovic into the back of the net. Eight minutes later, after both teams settled into the action, Slavisa found himself in tight with Baltimore keeper William Vanzela after corralling a loose ball. Last year??s rookie of the year sent the veteran keeper low with a pass fake before uncorking a laser beam just under the crossbar.
The early onslaught continued when Syracuse native JD Gruenewald tactfully trailed a Jamar Beasley breakaway before delicately slotting in the bouncing rebound. Machel Millwood gave the visiting Blast some footing :27 later when he capitalized on a defensive lapse that left a loose ball free in front of a helpless O??Quinn in goal.
Trailing 6-2 on the road going into the second quarter, the Blast displayed their veteran resiliency when they found netting twice in a matter of :14 seconds at the eleven minute mark of the second from Millwood and Ferdinand to tie the game at 6. Slavisa was able to restore the Knights lead four minutes later when he curled a left footed heater from just inside the arc off the post and into the net. The Blast continued to exploit the Knights vulnerability after scoring goals, and Adauto Neto tied the game back up less than five seconds later off the ensuing kick-off to send the two sides into the locker room tied at 8.
Both team??s jostled for the lead in the early stages of the second half, and it looked like the home side would be the first to get a leg up when Baltimore??s Steven DeRoux was shown the blue card for mercilessly slamming a defenseless Neto face-first into the boards. With all five attackers bearing down on the Baltimore crease, the Knights were caught on the break and Patrick Healey gave the Blast their first lead of the game with a shorthanded goal.
Tommy Tanner??s team quickly showed their must-win attitude and Slavisa displayed his offensive flair with a series of step-overs past a pair of Baltimore defenders before sending a through-ball through a third defender??s legs to Andriy Budnyy who carefully buried the chance past a sprawling Vanzela. Syracuse quickly tallied another goal, this time from a free kick that Nelson Santana used a step-over dummy to slide a pass over to Neto who ripped the chance through Vanzela??s legs.
Trying to avoid the stigma of dropping close games at home, the Knights took their 12-10 lead into the fourth with a defensive mindset. Baltimore took advantage of the lack of Syracuse offensive pressure and quickly equalized through a Steven DeRoux goal. Both teams exchanged fourth quarter chances in pursuit of the game-winner, but both O??Quinn and Vanzela were up to the task. With the game heading to overtime, Baltimore took the opening kick-off and never looked back. Baltimore was awarded a free kick from the top of the box and Tony Donatelli found himself on the right end of a tap-in goal leaving the Syracuse fans stunned.
The Silver Knights will look to pick themselves up in front of an anticipated sell out crowd this Sunday afternoon for a rematch with the Blast at 1:30 p.m.
Courtesy: Syracuse Silver Knights