Spirit's second-stringers melt under Heat's pressure, 13-11

March 28, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Although less than a season old, th Interstate 83 indoor soccer rivalry is in full bloom.

The teams that played here last night -- the Spirit and the Harrisburg Heat -- will meet in the first round of the NPSL playoffs, just as if Baltimore coach Kenny Cooper had willed it. He has been beating the drums for the rivalry for months.

The best-of-three playoff series will open April 6 at the Baltimore Arena, continue here the next night and conclude with a third game, if necessary, April 8 in Baltimore.

"I've felt from the start that it would be great if we met Harrisburg in the playoffs," Cooper said. "That's what this game is all about, rivalries."

Last night's game, a 13-11 Harrisburg victory before 5,794 at the State Farm Show Arena, was hardly a playoff preview.

Both teams held out some of their best players, the Spirit because it wanted to give injuries more time to heal. The Heat clinched the fourth and final playoff spot in the NPSL's American Division Friday by beating the Dayton Dynamo.

The game bore only slight resemblance to the teams' previous two Harrisburg-Baltimore encounters here this season. The Heat won those by a combined score of 48-26.

Harrisburg entered the fourth quarter with an 8-6 lead. Steve Nichols put the Spirit ahead for the first time 1:05 into the period with a three-point goal, but the Heat then scored five unanswered points for a 13-9 lead. Joe Koziol and Barry Stitz brought the Spirit within two with one-point shootouts.

Seven minutes into the game, the Heat quickly suggested last night's game might be a rout by taking a 4-0 lead after seven

minutes on goals by Bill Becher and John Prow.

Then the Spirit's rookies went to work. Joey Murtagh scored the first goal, Stitz added the second and Billy Reinhardt headed in ++ the third.

At halftime, Baltimore led 6-5. Becher scored the Heat's only point in the second quarter.

NOTES: Four of the Spirit's leading players were held out of the game because of injuries -- Kevin Smith (groin), Goran Hunjak (ankle), Tim Wittman (calf) and Rusty Troy (groin, knee, back). All could have played if the game had been important; they'll be ready for the playoffs. The Spirit dressed only 12 players, the minimum allowed by the NPSL. . . . The Heat's Lee Tschantret returned to the lineup Friday night after missing 12 games with a knee injury. He scored a goal. The win made the Heat 13-3 with Tschantret in the lineup. . . . Harrisburg rookie goalie Brett Phillips sprained an ankle making a save March 19 and sat out Friday night and last night. Joe Mallia replaced him. . . . Joe Koziol is the third Baltimore player to score 100 points; he joins Hunjak and Troy. . . . Franklin McIntosh, the NPSL's all-time leader in points (588 entering last night's game), has set team records this season for goals, assists and points.

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