Spirit makes quick playoff exit INDOOR SOCCER Heat sweeps series with 22-9 victory

April 08, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- It boiled down to a simple fact: The Spirit couldn't beat the Heat in this city.

After losing three times by a combined score of 61-37 during the regular season, the Spirit couldn't win here during the playoffs, either.

This time the defeat ended the Spirit's season.

The top-seeded Spirit lost to No. 4 Harrisburg, 22-9, before 3,604 at the State Farm Show Arena, just as the National Division regular-season champion Wichita Wings lost twice in overtime to the No. 4 St. Louis Ambush.

The Heat swept the first two games of the best-of-three American Division series to advance to the second round against the Cleveland Crunch.

The Crunch beat the Buffalo Blizzard in the third game of their series last night, 13-6. The Harrisburg-Cleveland American Division championship series will open here Saturday and conclude next week in Cleveland.

Offensively, Baltimore went out with a whimper. The team that poured in 20-plus points a game during the regular season was held to 12 in two games by Harrisburg.

"Harrisburg is a strong, powerful team," coach Kenny Cooper said. "Their goalkeeper [Joe Mallia] was terrific. All of them played solid defense. It's a well-balanced team. Harrisburg has the ability to win it all."

Last night's loss underscored the Spirit's inability to win on the road late in the season. It dropped eight of its last nine for a final away record of 9-12.

"Harrisburg matched up well against us," the Spirit's Tim Wittman said. "I'd like to see them win it all. We just weren't good enough to win these two nights."

Said Steve Boardman: "They put their chances away better. It seemed like when we scored, they'd come right back with a goal themselves. That kills you. Momentum doesn't last very long when a team does that to you."

Leading last night at halftime, 8-4, the Heat let the Spirit draw within 8-6 on Wittman's goal, but then scored six straight points for a 14-6 advantage and was never challenged again.

The first quarter oozed with ill feeling. There were six penalties, including tripping, charging and, on four occasions,unsportsmanlike conduct. Play was punctuated with trash-talking and finger-pointing.

Baltimore's Eric Dade, nailed for unsportsmanlike conduct, tried to choke Franklin McIntosh, gesturing that the Heat star had given him an elbow to the head.

McIntosh drew two first-quarter penalties. The Spirit acted as if it were trying to goad the volatile McIntosh into penalties to take his concentration off soccer.

Rookie Mike Conaway, starting in place of injured Rusty Troy, scored the game's first goal. Danny Kelly and Mark Pulisic combined to give the Heat a 3-2 lead entering the second quarter and two-pointers by Bill Becher and Richard Chinapoo ++ made it 7-2, Harrisburg.

Becher timed a looping pass from McIntosh, leaped and -- while in mid-air -- kicked the ball into the goal. Chinapoo's 145-foot kick caught Baltimore goalie Cris Vaccaro too far in front of the cage and the ball sailed over his head.

After Goran Hunjak scored Baltimore's second goal, Kelly made it a hat trick for an 8-4 lead at halftime.

The Spirit played without its No. 2 scorer (116 points), Troy, who aggravated a groin pull in the opener.

Troy was subpar in Tuesday's game and said afterward that the injury had hampered him.

NOTES:Two Harrisburg players with Baltimore connections did a number on the Spirit in the opener. John Abe (Essex Community College) scored the winning goal and Doug Miller (Loyola College and Blast) had a hat trick. "I call this [Baltimore] home," Miller said. "I've lived here six years. It's great to play here." . . . How did Harrisburg manage to hold the Spirit to three points in the opener? "It was a total team effort," Heat coach Jim Pollihan said."Guys sacrificed their bodies to block shots, [goalie Joe] Mallia was great and we had a little luck. They had some chances they didn't connect on and we made the most of ours."

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