Spirit rides Wave to 11-10 win

November 25, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

Nothing stops the Spirit's Tim Wittman, not even the wear and tear of age.

In his 13th pro indoor season, Wittman, 30, is off to one of his best starts. He scored a hat trick as the undefeated Spirit (6-0) edged the previously unbeaten Milwaukee Wave, 11-10, last nTC night before 4,382 at the Baltimore Arena.

With the Spirit trailing 10-9, Wittman, a Calvert Hall alumnus, scored the winning goal with 6:58 left. That raised his points total for the season to 24, two behind club leader Paul Wright.

"It was a privilege to be part of the Tim Wittman show," coach Kenny Cooper said. "We made a change during the game, moving Timmy from the back to midfield. Of all the people in the league, he pressures people and forces turnovers probably better than anyone."

Wittman says that flashy statistics don't necessarily constitute a good start. His statistics last night were indeed flashy -- seven points on three goals and an assist. He has 13 points in the past two games, the first six on a club-record six assists Friday against the Harrisburg Heat.

"I look on it more as taking advantage of a scoring opportunity when it presents itself," Wittman said. "I might go five games without scoring, but it doesn't necessarily mean I played bad. If someone else scores, and I contribute, then I've had a good game."

There's something about November that brings out the best in the Spirit. In its two-year history in the National Professional Soccer League, the Spirit is 10-0 in November, including 5-0 this season with Saturday's game against the Chicago Power remaining.

For the Spirit, the win was its 12th straight at home and 22nd in 25 games over two years. The Spirit hasn't lost a regular-season game at home since Jan. 23, to the Wichita Wings.

In the third quarter, Milwaukee tied it at 8 on goals by Jeff Betts and Chad Ashton, his second of the game. The score had been tied earlier at 2-2 and 4-4. The Spirit was held scoreless in a quarter for the first time this year.

The Spirit's Dan O'Keefe opened the scoring by taking Eric Dade's pass off the boards, spinning and then kicking in the rebound. Milwaukee's Rene Ortiz promptly made it 2-2.

The Spirit took an 8-4 lead in the second quarter, thanks largely to Wittman, who scored twice, once in a short-handed situation while Lance Johnson was in the penalty box for tripping.

Johnson had assisted on the Spirit's other goal of the quarter, by Clark Brisson. It was the eighth point in three games for the rookie out of Towson State.

The game marked the return to Baltimore of Michael King, Milwaukee's leading scorer. In 15 games with the Spirit last season, King had 20 goals and six assists for 48 points before a knee injury and major surgery finished him for the year.

He might have returned to the Spirit, but prevailed on Cooper to arrange a deal that would put him with a team nearer his wife's hometown of Chicago. He entered last night's game as the Wave's top scorer with 16 points.

NOTES: Disciplinary action, if any, by NPSL commissioner Steve Paxos against the Harrisburg Heat's Denis Hamlett is not expected until tomorrow at the earliest, more likely Monday. Hamlett broke Spirit rookie Rob Ukrop's jaw in two places with a flying elbow in last Friday's Baltimore victory. Ukrop, home in Richmond recovering, will be out at least eight weeks. John Abe, signed Tuesday as Ukrop's roster replacement, suited up last night. Abe, 32, played for Northern High in Baltimore, Essex Community College and, last season, Harrisburg of the NPSL. . . . Goran Hunjak, who has six assists for the Spirit, is hampered by a sprained ankle. . . . In his 13th indoor season, Wittman had 17 points in the Spirit's first five games. He had two goals in the first half last night. . . . Cardinal Gibbons basketball-soccer star Steve Wojciechowski kicked out the first ball. Ranked third in his class with a 3.88 grade-point average, Wojciechowski is headed for Duke on a basketball scholarship. . . . Former local college and pro stars will compete in the Silver Anniversary Turkey Bowl game today at 11 a.m. at Radecke Park. Among the Old Timers are Joey Speca, the five Mangione brothers and the Kujawa brothers. The Turkeys will feature ex-Blast Dan Geerling and the three LaHatte brothers.

Milwaukee .. 2 .. 2 .. 4 .. 2 .. -- .. 10

Baltimore .. 2 .. 6 .. 0 .. 3 .. -- .. 11

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