Spirit holds off Thunder behind Troy's 7 points Denver drops 10th in row, 15-13

February 04, 1993|By Terry Bote | Terry Bote,Contributing Writer

DENVER -- Baltimore Spirit coach Kenny Cooper wasn't expecting a breather, but then again he wasn't expecting to be holding his breath at the conclusion, either.

The league-leading Spirit had to hang on for a 15-13 National Professional Soccer League win over the Denver Thunder last night before an estimated 200 fans at the Denver Coliseum.

The Spirit, which beat Denver, 20-2, earlier in the season, broke a 9-9 tie with two goals in the first 1:40 of the final quarter and stayed in front the rest of the way.

"It's going to be a dogfight for us every game from now on," said Cooper. "There's no way we can blow out any team like we did in the beginning of the season. Other teams have settled down."

Rusty Troy, who had seven points on two goals and an assist, scored on a follow-up shot just 40 seconds into the fourth period to break the tie. Exactly a minute late, Goran Hunjak gave Baltimore a 13-9 lead. Hunjak also had a pair of assists.

Denver closed to 13-11 on Zico Doe's second goal of the night at the 12:56 mark, but the Thunder couldn't get the equalizer.

Late goals by Baltimore's Joe Koziol and Denver's Tom Soehn didn't change the final margin.

"We had a lot of opportunities, but we didn't finish a lot of chances," Cooper said. "But a win is a win. We need it to move away from Cleveland."

Baltimore improved to 18-6 on the season and finished a stretch of 10 games in 17 days in which it went 6-4. Denver dropped its 10th straight and fell to 3-15.

Baltimore's Smith opened the scoring at 8:05 in the first quarter with a shot between Denver goaltender Al Gillette's legs. Two minutes later, Tim Wittman gave the Spirit a 4-0 lead on a header off a rebound. Wittman had five of Baltimore's 10 shots on goal in the first quarter.

Denver's Doe scored off a pass from Jeff Rogers just 25 seconds before the end of the quarter to cut the margin to 4-2 after 15 minutes.

Wittman scored his second goal of the night six minutes into the second quarter as Baltimore went ahead 6-2. But Rogers answered with a two-point goal 15 seconds later for the Thunder.

Barry Stitz's 16th goal of the season later in the period upped Baltimore's lead to 8-4.

Ted Eck took a two-on-one pass from Mike Bradby and beat goalie Cris Vaccaro at 13:55 to pull the Thunder within two at the half.

Denver tied the game at 8 less than three minutes into the third quarter when Andy Crawford intercepted a pass in the Thunder endand went the length of the playing field before rocketing a left-footed shot past Vaccaro.

Troy and Denver's Bradby traded one-point power-play goals later in the quarter to keep the score knotted at 9.

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