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Big games, Hall of Fame weekend on tap for Blast

Posted at 4:30 PM, Feb 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-22 08:39:07-05

BALTIMORE, Md. — There's no denying it, this weekend is big for the Blast.

“Probably the biggest of the season so far,” said forward Vini Dantas.

Two home games against rivals, Friday versus Milwaukee then comes Utica on Sunday. They are huge games for playoff positioning.

“We know Milwaukee is the favorite to go out on the Central Conference,” said Dantas. “Beating Milwaukee at home, beating Utica - both big, big games for us this weekend.”

Baltimore sits in second place in the Eastern Division. The club is a game-and-a-half back of first place Utica, who handed the Blast its first home loss ever at SECU Arena two weeks ago.

“We knew some day it would happen, to lose a game at home,” said goalkeeper William Vanzela. “We need to reply in a better way and beat them back.”

The Blast will be getting a boost. Forward Juan Pereira returns this weekend after missing five weeks with a left foot injury.

On Sunday is a chance to honor two of the best to ever put on a Blast uniform. Giuliano Celenza and PJ Wakefield are set to be inducted into the team's hall of fame. Both are Baltimore area natives and went to UMBC.

Wakefield is a former captain and five-time champion with the Blast.

“What PJ has left behind is a guy that dedicated himself to the game. He loved the game. He enjoyed the game,” said Blast Assistant Coach David Bascome, who coached and played with Wakefield.

Celenza is also a five-time champ. He ranks third in franchise history with 218 goals. He currently teaches physical education and is a soccer coach at Gerstell Academy in Carroll County.

“It's definitely an honor, especially growing up in Baltimore watching the Blast,” he said. “To get my name on the banner with some of the guys that I grew up watching, it's an awesome feeling.”

The induction ceremony will take place during halftime of Sunday's game.

Follow Shawn Stepner on Twitter @StepnerWMAR and Facebook