Early indications show Spirit is a team with the right stuff

November 09, 1992|By From Staff Reports

You have to get up pretty early in the morning to win your National Professional Soccer League home debut.

At least, you have to if you're the Baltimore Spirit.

The Spirit played its first Baltimore Arena regular-season game Saturday night, defeating the Chicago Power, 19-12, before 6,471.

"This is what we've worked so hard for. This was a very long day," said Spirit coach Kenny Cooper. "We had to get up at 4:45 this morning in Milwaukee, and the players deserve all the credit. We outplayed two good teams this weekend."

On Friday, the Spirit won its season opener over the Milwaukee Wave, 13-11, in overtime.

On Saturday night, Tim Wittman, a 12-year indoor veteran, got the Spirit started 10 seconds after a Power goal by Ken Snow had tied the game at 4 early in the second period.

He converted from the top of the circle on a free kick by beating a three-man Chicago wall and goalie Russ Prince to give the Spirit a 6-4 lead. Chicago never got even again.

"When you just split a wall, anything can happen," said Wittman, a Baltimore native playing for his hometown again after spending the Major Soccer League's last season in San Diego. "The keeper can't see a lot of things. You just hit and it goes in."

He also scored the 18th Spirit point on a shootout by flicking the ball over Prince's head with his heel and scored on the power play, a one-point play.

"I usually don't take shootouts," he said. "But this was one time in my career I felt like trying something."

The Power, two-time defending National Division champions, received consecutive goals from Snow and Mirko Castillo to pull to 15-10 with almost 10 minutes remaining in the game, plenty of time to win under the scoring rules that give two points for a normal goal and three points for a long-range score.

But one of the eight Baltimore natives on the roster, Jason Dieter, drilled a two-pointer 12 seconds later to blunt the momentum.

Cris Vaccaro, who made 13 saves against Milwaukee on Friday night, was in goal again, stopping 22 shots.

"I think our young players went into the fire and came out well," said Cooper. "There will never be a tougher test than to go in before 15,000 [in Milwaukee] in the other team's home opener."

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