Spirit's 4-goal flurry helps overcome Crunch, 17-14 Baltimore runs record to 3-0

November 15, 1992|By Dennis Manoloff | Dennis Manoloff,Contributing Writer

CLEVELAND -- The Baltimore Spirit scored four goals in a seven-minute span of the second and third periods last night and held on for a 17-14 victory in front of 5,829 at the Cleveland State Convocation Center.

Baltimore, a fellow expansion team from the Major Soccer

League and longtime indoor soccer rival of Cleveland, is 3-0 and atop the American Division, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Crunch.

"We have a rivalry, and this game is one to rekindle it," Spirit coach Kenny Cooper said. "We knew it would be close, and we worked hard for each other."

At one point in the fourth period, Baltimore led, 15-6. A final-minutes salvo by the Crunch came up short.

The Crunch closed to 15-11, but a throw-in goal by Spirit goaltender Cris Vaccaro with less than two minutes to play sealed the outcome.

Crunch forward Zoran Karic had a three-point goal with eight seconds left to finish the scoring.

"We ran out of time," Crunch coach Gary Hindley said. "We made it exciting in the end, but we were in too big of a rut by then."

Karic tied the game, 4-4, on a direct kick late in the second period.

Michael King, a former Crunch player, kick-started the blitz against his old team. After a push-off penalty assessed to Wes Sechrist of the Crunch, Spirit's Michael King scored on an indirect free kick with 55 seconds left in the half. Goran Hunjak was credited with an assist.

King finished with three goals.

The half ended, 6-4, and the Crunch was still very much alive -- especially given its forced two-man personnel shortage. Standout defender George Fernandez and midfielder Tommy Tanner are both members of the U.S. National Indoor Team, which is in Hong Kong for the World Championships.

Before many fans returned from the concession stands, however, Baltimore defender Eric Dade had ripped a left-footed shot from the left wing past Crunch goaltender Otto Orf one minute into the third.

On its next possession seconds later, the Spirit was stopped at point-blank range by defender Chris Charles, who was covering for Orf.

But Baltimore's Barry Stitz stole the ball on the next Crunch tries and fed Rusty Troy for a breakaway goal with 13:22 left in the period.

Jason Dieter completed the four-pack at 9:25 left in the third with a ringer from the top of the box that made it 12-4.

The Crunch's frustration reached its nadir six minutes into the fourth quarter. Trailing, 15-8, the Crunch had a shootout opportunity after a Spirit penalty, but Karic was stoned on a sprawling save by Cris Vaccaro.

The subsequent Crunch power play was fruitless, too, thanks to a pair of diving saves by Vaccaro.

Those missed chances loomed large when, a minute later, Karic scored for the Crunch to make it 15-10.

The first half featured solid defense and missed scoring opportunities for both teams.

Each team spent most of the first period on the defensive. Baltimore finally broke through 10:52 into the first period.

The Spirit's King and Troy worked the two-man game against Glenn Carbonarra and Charles on the right flank.

Carbonarra initially stuffed the effort but lost his footing doing so, and King rifled a shot just inside the left post past Orf.

That was all the scoring in the first quarter, as the Spirit vacuum-sealed high-scoring Crunch forwards Hector Marinaro and Karic.

Baltimore pushed it to 4-0 with 10:43 to play in the half. Joe Koziol set up far out on the left flank and passed cross-field to Steve Nichols, who neatly used his right heel to neatly slip it past a stunned Orf.

The Crunch finally got untracked less than a minute later, and got some help in doing so. Baltimore defender Dieter was whistled for tripping Marinaro on a play in the box.

Marinaro's subsequent penalty kick -- the first for the Crunch this season -- was true, cutting the deficit in half.

The Crunch continued to apply pressure before tying the score with 4 1/2 minutes left before intermission.

Marinaro was held during a triple-team, and Karic's direct kick that followed beat Vaccaro.

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