Half full or half empty, Spirit gets by, 14-10

November 29, 1992|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

Coach Kenny Cooper called it a game of two halves. It was the Spirit's good fortune that Rusty Troy had an exceptional first half.

Troy scored three first-half goals as the undefeated Spirit beat the Harrisburg Heat, 14-10, for its fifth straight National Professional Soccer League victory yesterday before 3,396 at the Baltimore Arena.

Troy's hat trick helped form a 10-2 halftime advantage, but it turned out that the Spirit needed even more than that. Harrisburg stormed back in the fourth quarter to pull to 12-10 with 2 1/2 minutes left.

Not until Joe Koziol's goal with four seconds left could the Spirit breathe easily.

"In the second half, with that big lead, we got away from our plan of keeping the ball moving," Cooper said. "We have to learn from this, that no lead is safe."

The game marked the start of what is expected to be a strong Interstate 83 rivalry. The teams will play four more times this season.

Troy, 26, is one of the NPSL's hottest scorers. He had four goals in the previous game against Buffalo, giving him seven in his past six quarters at halftime yesterday.

"I don't like to talk too much about it," Troy said. "The guys are getting me the ball. You can go a whole season and not get many games like I've had the last two."

In the fourth quarter, Troy got into a pushing match with Franklin McIntosh, a former Blast player and one of the Heat's scoring leaders. The ill feelings carried over after the game, although the two players disagreed who said and did what.

"It was just some unpleasantness in the heat of battle," Troy said. "Afterward, I went over to shake hands, wanting to leave it right there on the field, and he tried to shove his thumb in my eye."

Told of Troy's remarks, McIntosh said, "He said that, did he? Well, I just tapped him on the shoulder to let him know he played a good game and he gave me a palm to the forehead."

Cooper brushed off the scuffle as the sort of thing that will happen in a heated rivalry. "When a game is close, sometimes it spills over into altercations," Cooper said. "That's going to happen in a rivalry."

The Heat was coming off a 15-10 loss to Canton on Friday night in Harrisburg, but coach Jim Pollihan refused to lean on that as an excuse for his team's slow start. "One good half won't win for you," said Pollihan, a former Blast player and assistant coach. "The Spirit got the goals early, making it a long night for us. They know this field and this building, and that is an advantage."

With 1:03 left in the first half, Troy already had his hat trick. He had a one-point goal on a shootout in the first quarter and scored the Spirit's last two goals of the second quarter, both two-point shots.

Harrisburg jumped to a 2-0 lead on Mark Pulisic's shot in the first quarter. Troy's first score and Steve Boardman's power-play goal tied it at 2 with four minutes left in the quarter. Barry Stitz put the Spirit ahead for good. After the Spirit peppered Harrisburg goalkeeper Joe Mallia with three shots, team scoring leader Goran Hunjak kicked in a rebound on the fly for a 6-2 Baltimore lead.

Shut out in the third quarter, the Spirit all but squandered its advantage in the fourth. Harrisburg scored three of the first four goals in the period to close to 12-10 before Koziol wrapped it up.

In his fifth straight start, Spirit goalie Cris Vaccaro again played well, making 16 saves. He has faced five shootout attempts and stopped them all. "Stopping a shootout can take away the other team's momentum," Vaccaro said. "I try to stay on my feet as much as possible. Sometimes, though, it's a guessing game."

NOTES: When Vaccaro drew a tripping penalty while trying to stop a shootout attempt, Brian Hartlove made his first appearance of the season and gave up a penalty kick goal. He was credited with one second of playing time. . . . The Spirit's next game is Friday at Wichita before returning home to play Detroit a week from tonight.

Harrisburg.. ..2.. ..0.. ..2.. ..6 -- 10

Spirit.. .. ...6.. ..4.. ..0.. ..4 -- 14

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