Wright helps Spirit break hex, top Wichita, 18-14

January 22, 1994|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

Paul Wright couldn't have picked a better night to tie a Spirit record. He had five goals and the Spirit welcomed them all.

Wright added two assists, giving him nine points for the night, to lead the Spirit to an 18-14 win over the Wichita Wings before 5,218 at the Baltimore Arena.

Wright, who tied Goran Hunjak's team record with five goals in a game, scored his fifth with 31 seconds left. Until then, the game had been tight throughout.

"Wright was sensational," Spirit coach Kenny Cooper said. "He has such explosive scoring power."

Wichita was the only National Professional Soccer League team the Spirit hadn't beaten. The Wings were 2-0 against Baltimore, including a 15-6 victory last Jan. 23 that was the Spirit's worst home loss. Last night, the Spirit (16-3) stretched its home record to 12-1 this season and 30-4 over two years.

The frenzied fourth quarter began with the Spirit holding a 12-8 lead. Chico Borja tied it at 12, Chugger Adair gave Wichita its only lead of the night at 14-12 and Wright tied it at 14 with his third goal.

A pair of one-point goals by Wright and Clark Brisson provided the Spirit with a 16-14 edge until Wright's final goal iced it.

"We had a chance to blow it wide-open," Cooper said. "We missed some chances. When you do that, the other team is going to capitalize."

The Spirit held its four-point lead during a high-scoring third period in which each team scored three two-point goals. Adair and Tarik Walker each had his second of the night. Adair, in only his second game with Wichita, picked up his third goal in the fourth quarter.

The Spirit played the second half without Rusty Troy, who twisted a knee.

After Barry Stitz gave the Spirit a 2-0 lead, Adair tied it 15 seconds later. Adair, 6 feet 5, 190 pounds and out of San Diego State, signed a 10-day contract "to see if he likes it," said a Wichita official.

Wright had a hand in each of the Spirit's next three goals, scoring a pair of one-pointers and assisting on Walker's goal that went through goalie Kris Peat's legs and gave Baltimore a 6-2 halftime lead.

Wright has 14 one-point goals, breaking the club record of 11 set last year by Troy and Hunjak. The season is still one game shy of the halfway mark.

NOTES: Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina watched the game from the press box. . . . Spirit leading scorer Wright (strained hamstring) and No. 3 scorer Hunjak (sprained ankle) played despite their injuries. . . . A tape of last night's game will be shown today at 12:30 by Channel 2. . . . Tatu, Wichita's No. 2 scorer behind Dale Ervine, missed the game after undergoing surgery on his wrist, broken last week against the Kansas City Attack. He's recuperating at his home in Dallas. . . . The Spirit will complete its five-game homestand Friday against the defending champion Attack. Kansas City is led by Jon Parry, No. 14 in the league's points race. The first 3,000 fans age 21 and over at the Attack game will receive free Spirit sports mugs. The Spirit then will play three straight road games.

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