League plans farm teams to begin play next season

March 01, 1994|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Sun Staff Writer

Taking its cue from major-league baseball and hockey, the NPSL plans to create a farm system.

The network will have about 40 low-budget teams, or franchises, that will play a schedule of perhaps 20 weekend games, according to Spirit owner Bill Stealey. Most of the players will be recent college graduates with full-time jobs.

The Spirit's reserve teams might play out of Richmond, Va., Washington or Northern Virginia and Baltimore. Stealey might own and operate one or more of the teams. The NPSL plans for play to begin next season.

"There are a lot of young kids who need a league to play in," said Spirit coach Kenny Cooper. "The NPSL is asking, 'What can we do to develop players quicker?'

"It would be a feeder system. Our rookies, like Tarik Walker, Lance Johnson and Rob Ukrop, came right from college outdoor soccer to indoor soccer. We need to give young players indoor experience in a competitive league."

Long night in Dayton

Minus three regulars, the Spirit was hammered by the Dynamo in Dayton on Sunday, 24-11. Cooper held out Walker (sprained ankle), Doug Neely (virus) and Cris Vaccaro, the league's top-rated goalie who had posted wins Friday and Saturday. Cooper had said for weeks that rookie Sean Boehmcke was the No. 2 goalie, but he started Brian Hartlove instead.

"It was almost a matter of flipping a coin," Cooper said. "Brian won a few road games for us last year. We didn't want to push it by using Cris three straight nights."

Westcoat earns salute

Kansas City Attack goalie Warren Westcoat, a Severna Park High and Lock Haven (Pa.) University grad, was named NPSL Player of the Week after allowing only 25 points and registering 41 saves in helping the team compile its first three-game winning streak of the season.

Westcoat, saluted as the Arundel Sun's Goalie of the Decade for the 1980s, reduced his points-against average from 15.51 to 14.08.

NPSL tops million

With a quarter of the regular season remaining, the NPSL is on track to surpass last year's record attendance of 1,464,869. The league passed the million mark (1,023,025) last weekend after 184 games. Last season the NPSL reached 1 million on March 5, after 212 games.

The Milwaukee Wave, after leading the league in attendance six straight years, is third now with a 7,500 average, below the Buffalo Blizzard (8,234) and St. Louis Ambush (8,157). The Spirit, sixth with a 6,132 average, is one of nine teams on pace to surpass last year's attendance.


Paul Wright, whose 50th goal of the season was a three-pointer in Sunday's road loss to Dayton, leads the Spirit in 12 offensive categories. With 53 points in his past nine games, Wright is threatening Goran Hunjak's club records in goals (50 to 53), assists (37 to 46), points (120 to 141) and power-play goals (six to seven). Wright is one shy of Steve Boardman's three-point goals record of five and two shy of Joe Koziol's game-winning goals mark of six. . . . In two road games against last-place Dayton, the Spirit has allowed an average of 25 goals. In its other 27 games, the team has yielded an average of 11.5. . . . With his 20-4 record, Vaccaro has reached 20 wins for the seventh time in is 14-year pro career. . . . The Cleveland Crunch's Hector Marinaro was named Player of the Month after accumulating 64 points and leading the team to a 6-1 record despite the absence for most of February of injured NPSL leading scorer Zoran Karic.

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