Spirit blows by Blizzard for 16-8 win

January 08, 1994|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

The Spirit kept its grip on the Buffalo Blizzard at the Baltimore Arena.

Doug Neely, Rusty Troy and rookie Tarik Walker each had two goals to lead the Spirit to a 16-8 victory over the Blizzard last night before 6,684.

That left the Blizzard 0-5 here in the second year of the teams' rivalry. The Spirit's overall record at the Arena is 9-1 this season and 27-4 in two seasons.

The Spirit, the National Professional Soccer League's winningest team, broke open a close game in the fourth quarter on goals by Walker, Neely and Troy. It was the second two-goal game of the season for Walker, Troy's third and defender Neely's first.

"Once a year," Neely said, smiling. "On the first goal, their goalie was screened and I got lucky. It went to the right place but not because I aimed it. I just kicked it."

The win compensated in part for last Sunday's 14-2 loss to the Blizzard that left the Spirit 0-4 in Buffalo.

"Coming off that disappointing trip," Walker said, "we felt we owed [goalie Jamie] Swanner some goals."

Baltimore's Cris Vaccaro, the NPSL's top-rated goalie, scored the Spirit's final goal on a court-length heave. His five goals are a season record for an NPSL goalie.

The Spirit came from behind in the third period, outscoring the Blizzard for an 8-4 lead as Troy, Neely and Walker scored three unanswered goals. Rudy Pikuzinski's goal made it 8-6 and gave him a hat trick.

The scoreless first quarter was punctuated by a fight between the Spirit's Goran Hunjak and Buffalo's Ralph Black that led to the ejection of both players.

After a Hunjak push, Black's sweeping left drew blood above Hunjak's right eye. The Spirit forward responded by pulling Black's head down and kneeing it.

"I wanted to show him how sharp my knee is," Hunjak said. "That made it even. He'll have nightmares about my knee. I was just protecting myself."

Soccer took over in the second quarter when Pikuzinski scored the game's first goal. Eric Dade evened it for Baltimore, only to have Pikuzinski put Buffalo ahead 4-2, 1:05 before halftime.

The goals raised Pikuzinski's career points to 621, second on NPSL's all-time list to the Harrisburg Heat's Franklin McIntosh (630).

The Spirit was buoyed yesterday by the return to practice of rookie Rob Ukrop, who has been out since the fifth game with a broken jaw. He is scheduled to play next Friday against Harrisburg. A flying elbow by the Heat's Denis Hamlett's did the damage to Ukrop's jaw on Nov. 19.

Ukrop's return was greeted in the locker room by applause and high-fives.

"Just hours after Rob was injured, even though doctors were telling him he might not be ready until late January or early February, he circled the date of Jan. 14 for his return," coach Kenny Cooper said.

NOTES: Harrisburg signed Domenic Mobilio, 24, a Canadian who played four years for the Blast and led the team in scoring in 1990-91 with 49 goals, two shy of Joey Fink's club record. The Spirit tried to sign Mobilio, but didn't match Harrisburg's salary offer. . . . A tape of last night's game will be shown on Channel 2 today at 11 a.m.

t tTC

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