Spirit doesn't warm up to road in loss to Heat INDOOR SOCCER

March 06, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- If the Spirit is going to maintain its grip on the NPSL's American Division, it is going to have to change its habits on the road.

Although it still has the best record (22-10) in the league, the Spirit has lost four straight away games and its road record has leveled off at 8-8.

After successive road losses at Dayton, Buffalo and Chicago, the Spirit got hammered by the Harrisburg Heat, 27-12, last night before 5,380 at the State Farm Show Arena.

In the locker room, Spirit coach Kenny Cooper was seething.

"We lost ugly, making bad decisions," he said. "It was an unacceptable, gutless performance. When the score gets like that, it's a bad endorsement for the game."

The Spirit has absorbed two of its worst beatings of the season here. In January, the Heat coasted to a 21-14 victory.

The victory enabled Harrisburg to break out of its virtual tie with the idle Buffalo Blizzard for second place in the American Division. The Heat is now 2 1/2 games behind the Spirit.

"This gives us a reason now to play for first place," said Harrisburg's Richard Chinapoo. "If we had fallen 4 1/2 games behind, it would be hard to make up."

Leading at halftime, 11-4, the Heat poured it on in the second half. Danny Kelly led Harrisburg with nine points, including a pair of three-pointers, and Franklin McIntosh had four points. Joe Koziol had five points for Baltimore.

Tempers flared in the second half. McIntosh and Goran Hunjak were nailed for unsportsmanlike conduct and Baltimore goalie Cris Vaccaro and the Heat's Denis Hamlett came up swinging after the two collided.

Cooper was incensed that Vaccaro's teammates didn't leap to his defense.

"You protect your goalkeeper, and that was obviously a late hit," Cooper said. "I didn't like the way my players didn't respond. A team is supposed to be united."

By the end of the third quarter, the game was so one-sided that the Spirit resorted to a sixth attacker. When he wasn't trying to attack, Kevin Smith was in the net waving futilely at the ball as it buzzed by.

"We have the makings of a great rivalry with Harrisburg," Cooper said. "But my guys aren't caught up in it yet."

When McIntosh opened the game with a two-point goal, he became the NPSL's career scoring leader -- at least for one night.

He entered the game tied with the St. Louis Ambush's Dan O'Keefe with 548 points. St. Louis was idle last night.

The Spirit's Mike Stankovic, 37, making his first game appearance since injuring his knee Dec. 21, 1991, tied it at 2. Stankovic is playing while Doug Neely is on the disabled list with a sprained ankle.

Hamlett then scored a two-pointer and Kelly a three-pointer for a 7-2 Harrisburg lead.

Koziol brought Baltimore within 7-4, but Doug Miller and John Abe built the Heat's lead to 11-4.

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