Spirit treats 10,385 fans to 17-10 cruncher Hunjak gets 100th, helps top Cleveland

February 14, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

The Spirit's Goran Hunjak wisely saved his best shots for the Cleveland Crunch.

Before a crowd of 10,385, the club's largest of the season, Hunjak became the first Spirit player to score 100 points, and the Spirit defeated Cleveland, 17-10, last night at the Baltimore Arena.

Hunjak entered the game needing five points for 100.

In the first half he had two two-point goals and a one-pointer, reaching 100 with his second two-pointer, which gave Baltimore a 13-6 halftime edge.

Hunjak is the fifth NPSL player to score 100, joining Cleveland's Hector Marinaro and Zoran Karic, the Buffalo Blizzard's Rudy Pikuzinski and the Kansas City Attack's Jon Parry.

The attendance dwarfed the club's previous largest crowd, 6,563 for the Jan. 23 loss to the Wichita Wings. The main lure was the giveaway -- 5,000 free NPSL soccer balls to kids 18 and under.

In defeating one of its closest pursuers in the NPSL's American Division, the Spirit (19-6) raised its home record to 12-2 and took a 3-1 lead in its series against the Crunch. Cleveland (16-11, 6-8 on the road) has lost three of its past four, including a 21-16 decision Friday night to the Wave in Milwaukee.

"We're on a roll," Spirit midfielder Kevin Smith said. "It's a matter of catch us if you can."

Keeping Marinaro and Karic, the league's scoring leaders, in reasonable check was a key to the victory.

Marinaro had four points, leaving him four shy of Andy Chapman's NPSL record of 180 set in 1991. Zaric had four for a total of 133, including 102 in his past 14 games. Doug Neely was primarily responsible for guarding Karic, and Tim Wittman shadowed Marinaro.

"All our defenders did an excellent job," Smith said. "No lead is safe with Marinaro and Karic on the field, and to hold them to four points apiece is a great achievement. Keeping a team like that to 10 goals is really something."

Asked before the game how the Spirit would try to shackle Marinaro and Karic, coach Kenny Cooper said: "Cut off their supply. Cleveland will look to get the ball to them, so we have to pressure the passer."

The second half was relatively uneventful until the final minutes. The Spirit entered the third quarter with a 13-6 advantage and did not trail by fewer than five points the rest of the way.

With a minute remaining and behind by five, Cleveland pulled its goalie and used a sixth attacker. Wittman, however, found an empty net for a goal (to go with four assists) with 50 seconds left.

NOTES: Reserve goalie Brian Hartlove, bothered during the week by a bad knee, was ready to play last night and may start tonight against the Rockers inDetroit to give Cris Vaccaro a respite. . . . The game was the Spirit's first since a 15-13 win Feb. 3 over the Thunder in Denver. "Not a problem," Cooper said before the game. "We had three competitive scrimmages in 10 days, two this past week. They were full games. We kept our intensity. It was by far our best week of practice this season." . . . Until last night, Hunjak's scoring had dipped lately. The Spirit's leader was No. 3 in the NPSL with 77 points in 17 games a month ago. Hunjak had scored 18 points in his past seven games and dropped to a tie for fifth in the league. "No wonder," Cooper said. "He's a marked man. He gets double- and triple-teamed. This is his first time in the league, and teams have come to learn when he gets the ball he can hurt you. He's capable of dribbling past two or three defenders. What he has to do, when he draws two or three to him, is pass to the open man -- create rather than score." . . . Fans who received the free soccer balls can have them autographed by Spirit players from 5:45-6:45 p.m. before the game against the Kansas City Attack Feb. 27.Cleveland 2 4 2 2 -- 10

Spirit 7 6 2 2 -- 17

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