Spirit stumbles against Rockers Defending champs hang on, 11-9

January 16, 1993|By Bill Roose | Bill Roose,Contributing Writer

DETROIT -- The Baltimore Spirit rallied from a three-goal second-half deficit but fell to the Detroit Rockers, the defending National Professional Soccer League champions, 11-9, last night at Cobo Arena.

Rockers forward Sean Bowers notched the game-winner at 5:26 of the final quarter on a free kick to the right of Spirit goalkeeper Cris Vaccaro. It was the Rockers' second straight victory.

"I thought we were doing really well, and we held on and shut them out with their man-advantage," Bowers said. The Rockers' Tim Ernst received a tripping penalty at 11:57 of the fourth quarter, but the Spirit couldn't convert.

"When our team plays here in Detroit we play a lot better."

The second half started at a much faster pace than the first half.

Trailing 7-4 early in the third quarter after Rockers defenseman Randy Prescott blasted a 50-foot, three-point goal past Vaccaro, the Spirit chipped away with three third-quarter goals.

Goran Hunjak scored at 4:14 on a one-point power-play goal on a pass from Joe Koziol.

Seconds later, the Spirit tied the score 7-7 on Rusty Troy's goal on a pass from newcomer Kevin Smith.

Bowers' first goal of the game put the Rockers up 9-7 at 6:56 of the third.

Jason Dieter answered to tie it when he converted a pass from Smith at 12:12 of the third.

The Rockers received an outstanding goalkeeping performance from Bryan Finnerty, who made 24 saves.

The Spirit's overall team speed dictated how the Rockers played in the first half.

The Rockers struck first.

Forward Eloy Salgado took a pass from defenseman Tommy Isirov, and after banging the ball off of the crossbar, banked the rebound past Vaccaro for a 2-0 Rockers lead just 1:28 into the game.

Spirit midfielder Barry Stitz knotted the score at 2 when he drilled the rebound of Dieter's shot past Finnerty at 11:17 of the first quarter.

With the Spirit buzzing around the Rockers' net, Koziol converted on a pass from Eric Dade for a 4-2 Spirit lead at 4:03 of the second quarter.

But with both teams playing short-handed, Rockers forward Andy Chapman, formerly of the Baltimore Blast, banged home the tying goal at 14:57 of the second quarter for a 4-4 halftime score.

The first-place Spirit (13-4) plays the Buffalo Blizzard today at 1:05 p.m. at the Baltimore Arena.

Spirit ... 2... 2... 5... 0... --... 9

Detroit... 2... 2... 5... 2... --... 11

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