Good, bad news: Spirit wins division title, loses to Crunch, 14-8 INDOOR SOCCER

March 20, 1993|By Dennis Manoloff | Dennis Manoloff,Staff Writer

RICHFIELD, Ohio -- There was good news and bad news for the Spirit last night, as it sewed up the American Division title despite losing to the Cleveland Crunch, 14-8.

Buffalo's loss at Dayton clinched the division title for the Spirit. The Crunch eliminated Dayton from playoff contention.

Baltimore (25-12), which has the best record in the league, leads the Crunch by three games in the division.

But last night the Crunch looked like a leader as Hector Marinaro had a hat trick, helping his team clinch a National Professional Soccer League playoff berth.

A crowd of 7,318 at the Cleveland State University Convocation Center saw the Crunch play one of its best defensive games of the season.

The Crunch did not allow a goal for a 27-minute stretch in the second half.

Leading, 10-6, after three periods,Crunch forward Nassim Olabi secured the outcome against a Baltimore sixth-attacker with 3:41 left in the game.

At 17 seconds of the third quarter, Baltimore broke a 4-4 halftime tie when Kevin Smith scored.

But the Crunch dominated the rest of the period to take a 10-6 lead.

At 2:09, Zoran Karic scored on a hard shot from the left.

Less than a minute later, Marinaro made a pinpoint pass from the right across the box to Shawn Medved, who popped the ball past Spirit goalkeeper Cris Vaccaro.

The Crunch used another excellent pass to take the four-point lead. Karic, positioned on the left, waited for Marinaro to slice down the middle and virtually placed the ball on his foot.

Marinaro easily beat Vaccaro for his 88th goal of the season.

The first half, which ended, 4-4, featured the type of soccer expected from two of the league's top teams. There was tight marking, sharp passing and limited scoring opportunities.

Trailing, 4-2, after one quarter, the Crunch tied it at :25 of the second when Marinaro scored easily from inside the box on the left.

The Crunch had an opportunity to move in front for the first time in the game when Spirit defender Steve Boardman was guilty of a handball at 5:44 of the second.

But Vaccaro snuffed Marinaro's shootout attempt, and the Crunch barely managed a threat on the subsequent power play.

In the first quarter, Eric Dade opened the scoring at 2:13 when he took a pass from Jason Dieter, moved to the right flank and shot past Crunch goalkeeper Otto Orf into the lower left corner.

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