Spirit makes points (21) with crowd at Arena

November 02, 1992|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Contributing Writer

The score was reminiscent of football. The style of play resembled air hockey. The feeling at the Baltimore Arena last night was like a blast from the past.

For the 3,493 fans who watched the Baltimore Spirit open the city's latest chapter in professional indoor soccer, a 21-7 win over Harrisburg was more than a lopsided National Professional Soccer League exhibition game.

"This is a really special day for us," said Spirit coach Kenny Cooper. "It kind of reminds me of the excitement we felt in this city when we came here in 1980. You hold your breath and hope and pray they'll accept what they see, and by the looks of things, they did."

There are larger goals, two- and three-point shots and rules meant to keep the action moving.

The non-stop, end-to-end play proved the rules worked. The Spirit took 48 shots to Harrisburg's 21 and scored its first three-point goal on Rusty Troy's long-range shot 8:28 into the fourth quarter.

Midfielders Goran Hunjak and Joe Koziol led the Spirit offense, each scoring three times and accounting for 12 points between them. Hunjak, a four-year member of the Major Soccer League's Wichita Wings, said he preferred the new league's offensive style of play.

"It's more exciting to play this game," said Hunjak, who had two

two-point goals. "It's very wide open. A team always has a chance to come back."

With a quick start, however, the Spirit made that task nearly impossible.

It took a 5-0 lead after the first quarter on two-point goals from Hunjak and Doug Neely and a one-point power-play goal from Koziol. By late in the first half, the Spirit led 14-2.

The team will open its season Friday night in Milwaukee.

For one player, however, the higher scoring system has its drawbacks.

"It's such a crazy league," said Spirit goalie Cris Vaccaro, who played the first three quarters before giving way to rookie Brian Hartlove. "You can't even think about goals-against average. The bottom line is just winning."

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