The 2012 MISL Championship Series:
Baltimore Blast vs. Milwaukee Wave
Game One - Wave 14 - Blast 2
Game Two - Sunday, March 18, U.S. Cellular Arena, 4 p.m. Eastern Time
Leite, who was a finalist for the MISL Most Valuable Player award, had a pair of goals in the second quarter before completing his hat trick midway through the third. He was backed by an outstanding defensive performance by the Wave, who finished with 22 blocked shots, while goalkeeper Marcel Feenstra had 11 saves.
The Blast held the majority of the possession to open the game, but the Wave were dangerous throughout on the counterattack, springing out of their tight defensive formation that left little room for the Blast to find a way through. Marco Terminesi almost gave the Wave the lead on one of those counters, breaking in behind the Blast defense before shooting wide, but Nicolas Perera broke the deadlock on a blistering shot from just beyond the right corner of the 3-point arc into the bottom left corner of the net.
Terminesi went close again early in the second quarter, hitting the crossbar on a well-worked move, and the Blast hit back as Ricardinho scored off a good pass from Machel Millwood to make it 3-2. But that would be the Blast’s only goal of the night, and the Wave restored their advantage on another counterattack as Leite scored his first from the right side with 4:51 to play in the half. Leite then added another off a restart with just less than two minutes to play in the half, giving the Wave a 7-2 advantage at the break.
The Wave, who blocked 10 of the Blast’s 17 first-half shots, continued to frustrate Baltimore offensively in the second half. And even when the Blast found a way through, Feenstra was on hand to save, denying Shaun David from close range with just over five minutes gone in the third quarter to maintain the five-point lead.
The Wave weren’t having the same struggles at the other end of the field, with Leite completing his hat trick, again on a low shot to the left corner, and Jonathan Greenfield adding a goal 37 seconds apart to make the score 11-2 at the end of the third quarter. The Wave then remained content to protect their lead throughout the fourth quarter, with Josh Rife capping the performance with 2:03 to play as he scored a 3-pointer into an empty net from his own half.
Game 2 of the MISL Championship Series can be seen on MISL Live (www.misllivesoccer.com) on Sunday at 3 p.m. CT.The Rivalry: Blast vs. Wave
The 2011-12 season marks the 20th anniversary of the Blast vs. Wave rivalry, the most storied rivalry in the MISL, which dates back to the 1992-93 season. The teams have squared off 76 times in the regular season and 15 times in the postseason and the rivalry has intensified with every game, every goal and every victory. From the start of the 2011-12 season, both teams have been gearing up for this series, for both teams, a continuation of the rivalry; for the Blast, a chance to avenge last season's Championship Game loss to the Wave. The Wave lead the all-time regular-season series 46-30 and the Blast hold the postseason edge, 9-5. Since the 2002-03 season, the road to the Championship has gone through the Blast and Wave five times and the teams have combined to win 10 of the last 14 league championships (each team has five titles in that time period). 2012 is Baltimore’s fifth-consecutive postseason appearance and the 16th trip to the playoffs in 20 years.
Blast vs. Wave, 2011-12 Game-by Game:
December 31, U.S. Cellular Arena - W, 9-4
February 4, U.S. Cellular Arena - L, 8-22
March 16, 1st Mariner Arena, L, 2-14
Both games of the MISL Championship Series will be available via live webcast at www.MISLlivesoccer.com.