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Blast staying at SECU Arena, preparing for another playoff run

Posted at 4:54 PM, Apr 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-18 18:10:52-04

TOWSON, Md. — It's one of the toughest places to play in the Major Arena Soccer League: SECU Arena.

The Blast announced on Thursday they will call the Towson University venue home through the 2024-25 season.

“It's been a very, very nice relationship,” said Blast owner Ed Hale. “It's not always perfect. But, we're very comfortable here and I think they are comfortable with us now.”

It's a five year extension of the original deal agreed upon after the Blast moved out of Royal Farms Arena two years ago.

Meanwhile, the team practiced Thursday morning in Parkville. They were plenty happy about staying at SECU, which is one of the more unique, smaller fields in the MASL. They own a 23-2 record on their home field over their two-year stay.

“We love playing there,” said Blast midfielder Tony Donatelli. “The fans are great. It's a great atmosphere. They are right on top of you. It's loud.”

And it will be again when the Blast begin the postseason on Saturday. They will host Utica in game one of the Divisional Round. Baltimore went 3-3 against them this season. The Blast is going for a fourth consecutive league championship.

“We're comfortable in the uncomfortable in the playoffs, when everything is on the line,” said Donatelli. “The guys on this team have the experience to know what it takes to win.”

As experienced as this team may be in the playoffs there will be some guys getting their first taste of the postseason because the Blast is banged up.

Top defender Elton De Oliveira recently broke his orbital bone and cheekbone. He's out for the year. So is defender Marco Nascimento, who underwent surgery for an ACL injury last weekend.

Leading goal scorer Vini Dantas has missed the last three games of the regular season because of a bad back, but is expected to play.

“Every team has injuries throughout the season, in the playoffs, and yougot to deal with it,” said Blast Head Coach Danny Kelly. “ It's the old adage 'next man up'.”

“Our roster is definitely short but we don't take the foot out of the pedal,” said Blast goalkeeper William Vanzela. “We are still hoping for a four-peat.”

The quest starts at SECU Arena, Saturday night at 6:00 p.m.

Follow Shawn Stepner on Twitter @StepnerWMAR and Facebook