Spirit starts new season on Wright's foot, 13-8 Newcomer's 4 goals lead win over Power INDOOR SOCCER

October 30, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

Paul Wright, billed as the fastest man in indoor soccer and a scoring machine, produced as advertised.

His new team, however, was not so productive, but slipped by.

The Spirit opened its second season in the National Professional Soccer League with a 13-8 victory over the Chicago Power last night before 6,191 at the Baltimore Arena.

Wright had four goals and seven points, including the first five Spirit points. Wright scored 104 points in 25 games last season for the Milwaukee Wave.

He wasn't able to practice until early this week because of a pulled hamstring suffered while playing for the Los Angeles Salsa of the outdoor American Professional Soccer League.

"At times we were brilliant," Spirit coach Kenny Cooper said. "At other times, we didn't put it together. That was understandable, since it was our first game."

Goalie Cris Vaccaro was the only Spirit player from last season's team to score -- on a court-length heave into an open Power net with five seconds left. Dan O'Keefe, acquired from the St. Louis Ambush, had one goal, and so did rookie Rob Ukrop.

Goran Hunjak and Rusty Troy, the team's Nos. 1 and 2 scorers last season who combined for 257 points, had only one point -- an assist by Hunjak.

Chicago pulled to 9-8 on Pato Margetic's fourth-quarter goal, but Ukrop gave the Spirit an 11-8 lead with five minutes left.

In the third quarter, successive two-point goals by Ed Puskarich and Victor Fernandez gave Chicago its first lead at 6-5. The Spirit bounced back with two-pointers by O'Keefe and Wright for a 9-6 lead entering the final period.

Wright was assisted on that goal by Tim Wittman, conjuring visions of their days in 1991-92 with the San Diego Sockers of the now-defunct Major Soccer League. Wittman passed across the goal mouth to Wright, who hammered it home.

"This game endorsed all that has been said about Paul," Cooper said. "He's explosive. He can make things happen from nothing."

Wright started his string of five straight Spirit points with a two-point penalty kick 4:21 into the game. He had been tripped by goalie Tony Pierce on his first attempt for one point, then, given another try, for two points this time, he converted against substitute goalie Michael Richardson.

Wright followed with a one-point shootout midway through the second quarter. After Richardson trimmed the Spirit's lead to 3-2, Wright knocked in a two-point goal for a 5-2 edge. And before the first half ended, Wright blocked two point-blank Chicago shots with his chest while Vaccaro was out of the net.

NOTES: Spirit newcomer Dan O'Keefe's family was on hand for the game -- his wife, Sheila, son Ty, 3, and son, Cullen Patrick, born Tuesday at Union Memorial Hospital. . . . The Spirit sold 1,750 season tickets, up 550 from last season. . . . Jeannie Rehmert and Bill Snyder Jr. of Arbutus got married at halftime in a ceremony on the Arena floor. When the couple left the floor in a limousine before the second half, the Spirit players stood at the gate as if to form a receiving line. . . . The Spirit raised its 1992-93 NPSL American Division championship banner to the Arena rafters before the game. . . . The Spirit will play the Canton Invaders here a week from tonight at 7:05.

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