Spirit rebounds big time in 22-4 rout of Rockers

December 07, 1992|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

When coach Kenny Cooper was looking for the Spirit to bounce back, he didn't envision anything quite so overwhelming.

Stung by its first defeat of the season Friday in Wichita, Kan., the Spirit came home to crush the Detroit Rockers, 22-4, last night before 4,062 at the Baltimore Arena.

The 22 points were a Spirit season high and Goran Hunjak became the first to score five goals. Rusty Troy had four assists. Tim Wittman marked his return to the lineup after missing three games with a sprained ankle by scoring the game's first goal.

The victory over defending National Professional Soccer League champion Detroit raised the Spirit's record to 6-1, best in the league. The Rockers were playing their third game in as many days.

"It's good we had only one day to dwell on the Wichita loss," Cooper said. "We deserved the loss, the way we played. The mark of a good team is to be able to rebound and we wanted to jump on them early."

Jump on them the Spirit did, building a 13-0 halftime lead.

Hunjak, a native of former Yugoslavia who became a U.S. citizen last week, had a hat trick midway through the second quarter and a hat trick plus one with 2:55 left in the half. At that point, he had scored four straight goals, raising the Spirit's lead from 4-0 to 11-0.

His third goal was a thing of beauty. He faked a shot with his right foot, then, having caused goalie Bryan Finnerty to commit himself, booted the ball in with his left.

"When we apply full pressure as a team, we have no problem," Hunjak said. "We learned in Wichita that we have to do that."

Of his five goals, Hunjak said: "It's unexplainable. Sometimes it's Michael King, sometimes Rusty Troy, sometimes me. The guys gave me great balls, I took good shots and some went in."

The Spirit jumped to a 7-0 first-quarter lead, triggered by Wittman's game-opening goal. Wittman's return, Cooper said, gave the Spirit a lift.

"I just wanted to get back into things," Wittman said with a shrug.

Detroit had a golden opportunity to score in the first quarter when Sean Bowers attempted a shootout after a Baltimore penalty. But Cris Vaccaro smothered the shot by falling on it. Vaccaro blanked the Rockers until a little more than three minutes into the third period.

With a large early lead, Cooper used all 16 players, including reserve goalie Brian Hartlove.

"It's great that we young guys can get our feet wet now," Hartlove said. "That'll raise our confidence when we're flooded with games in January -- six home, six away and a stretch where we play three in three days."

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