Spirit coach Kenny Cooper couldn't have picked a more challenging time for rookie goalie Shawn Boehmcke's pro indoor soccer debut.
After Cris Vaccaro picked up Friday night's win in Harrisburg, Pa., the Spirit drove six hours by bus to Canton, Ohio, for Saturday night's game against the Invaders.
Boehmcke, who had a school-record 42 shutouts at Loyola College, would start, Cooper decided.
"There was a huge crowd packed in a small building and Canton was fired up," Cooper said. "The crowd's right on top of you. It's hard to think straight in that building. Shawn was tremendous."
Boehmcke, a native of Merrick, N.Y., made 19 saves in the 17-15 victory that raised the Spirit's record to 4-0. He won, for now at least, the No. 2 job behind Vaccaro from Brian Hartlove.
"For Boehmcke to come through like that takes the pressure off Cris," Cooper said. "The timing couldn't have been better. Considering that we didn't win in Harrisburg last season and how hard it is to play in Canton, there won't be two bigger games for us on the road."
The Spirit won without Goran Hunjak and Barry Stitz, who had sprained ankles. Both are expected to be available for Friday's game against Harrisburg at the Baltimore Arena.
"Winning twice without Goran and Barry, and without Cris Saturday night, builds team confidence," Cooper said. "Last season we probably would have played them [hurt], but we have a bigger, stronger and deeper team now."
Tatu less than dazzling
Tatu, a three-time scoring champion in the defunct Major Soccer League who led the Dallas Sidekicks to the Continental Indoor Soccer League title last summer, is off to a slow start with the Wichita Wings.
In five games, Tatu has 13 points, meager numbers for a player acknowledged to be in a class with the Cleveland Crunch's Hector Marinaro and Zoran Karic.
Marinaro and Karic lead the National Professional Soccer League with 31 points apiece. They are trailed by the Detroit Rockers' Andy Chapman with 30 and the Spirit's Paul Wright and the St. Louis Ambush's Joe Reiniger with 19 each.
Karic and Chapman shared NPSL Player of the Week honors after scoring 18 points apiece as their respective teams went 1-1. Karic has had at least one assist in 18 consecutive games dating to late last season, a league record.
Orf breaks hand
Cleveland goalie Otto Orf, who won 25 games last season, is out with a broken hand suffered in a win over the Buffalo Blizzard.
Orf was upended while trying to make a save in a corner of the goal and landed on his hand. Second-year goalie Bill Andracki will replace him.
Vaccaro replaces the Chicago Power's Tony Pierce as the NPSL's top-rated goalie with a 9.86 goals-against average. . . . Spirit rookie Rob Ukrop has 10 points, tying him for third with Dan O'Keefe and Rusty Troy behind team leaders Paul Wright and Tim Wittman. . . . Franklin McIntosh, a former Blast player now with Harrisburg, will be the guest on "Spirit Talk," a call-in show Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m. on WWLG (1360 AM). . . . The American Division's Spirit (4-0) and the National's Milwaukee Wave (3-0) are the league's only remaining undefeated teams. . . . Wichita, picked by the coaches to win the NPSL title, is 1-4. . . . In its 38-18 mauling of Detroit, the Dayton Dynamo set NPSL records for most points, second-half points (27) and fourth-quarter points (15). The teams' combined 56 broke the mark set last season when the Spirit defeated Detroit, 26-24, in overtime.