Spirit upends Blizzard for a 16-7 win Koziol continues streak, scores six

January 17, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

Spirit coach Kenny Cooper didn't have to ask Joe Koziol to turn up his play a notch yesterday. Koziol anticipated the command that Cooper eventually issued to the entire team.

No sooner had Michael King suffered a season-ending knee injury than Koziol began to amass points at a faster rate. The former Loyola College star had two goals and a game-high six points in the Spirit's 16-7 victory over the Buffalo Blizzard yesterday before 3,989 at the Baltimore Arena. It raised the Spirit's home record to 10-1.

In the three games that King has been out, Koziol has scored 14 points. Yesterday, he raised his points total to 50, moving past King into third place among Spirit players, behind Goran Hunjak and Rusty Troy.

"Any time you lose a player of King's caliber, others have to step up," Koziol said. "You want the ball more, demand it. Run, play, move, make space for someone else by taking a defender away."

The Spirit had a scant 9-7 fourth-quarter lead when Koziol scored his first goal. Three minutes later, he had his second and Baltimore had a commanding 13-7 edge with 4:20 remaining.

"The players have responded in Michael's absence," Cooper said. "When the game is on the line, big guns like Koziol are stepping up."

Two of the big guns were silent as the Spirit raised its record to 14-4, best in the National Professional Soccer League.

Hunjak and Troy, the league's Nos. 3 and 5 scorers, were shut out. So, too, was Buffalo's Rudy Pikuzinski, No. 2 behind the Cleveland's Crunch's Hector Marinaro.

The key point in the game occurred early in the third quarter when Buffalo (11-7) trailed by a point. In the space of 21 seconds, Eric Dade scored on a header and Jason Dieter kicked in a goal. Suddenly, it was 9-4. The Blizzard never recovered.

"I saw Joey's pass coming off the boards, had the first step on my defender and put my body in there," Dade said. "I hit the ball with my forehead."

Both teams had played Friday night in different cities and then had to travel to Baltimore to play less than 24 hours later.

"It comes to a battle of wills," Cooper said. "Someone has to bend. We said at halftime when it was 5-4 that we had to come out fired up and get on 'em early. Force turnovers.

We shortened shifts [in deference to tired legs]."

Steve Boardman's weren't tired because he sat out Friday night's 11-9 loss to the Rockets in Detroit with a strained groin muscle. He came back yesterday with two goals, including his second three-pointer of the season.

"I could have played in Detroit, but Kenny and Marty didn't think it was wise," Boardman said, referring to trainer Marty McGinty.

Tim Wittman also had a three-point goal when, with 22 seconds left, he found an empty net. It was the first time this season the Spirit scored two three-pointers in a game.

Cris Vaccaro, the NPSL's second-ranked goalie, made 15 saves.

After 18 consecutive starts, Vaccaro will get a respite when the Spirit travels to Canton, Ohio, tomorrow night. Perry Hall High grad Brian Hartlove, after relief appearances in five games, will face the Invaders in his first pro start.

NOTES: Steve Nichols (bruised foot) and Billy Reinhardt (sprained wrist) didn't play yesterday but could have in an

emergency. . . . After the game at Canton, the Spirit will travel to Harrisburg, Pa., to play the Heat Friday before entertaining the Wichita Wings Saturday night. The first 2,000 fans will receive long-sleeved Spirit T-shirts.

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