Spirit falls in record rout to Wichita

March 05, 1994|By Tracy Elliott | Tracy Elliott,Special to The Sun

WICHITA, Kan. -- Beaten by its own strong suit of counterattacking, the Spirit surrendered a franchise-record 30 points in a 30-20 loss to the Wichita Wings last night.

The fast-paced, run-and-gun game tied the National Professional Soccer League record for most points in a game at 50. Baltimore beat Detroit, 26-24, on March 20, 1993, to set the record.

Tatu and Dale Ervine each scored four goals and Terry Woodberry scored three shootout goals and had five assists for Wichita.

The Spirit, led by Goran Hunjak's two goals and two assists, dropped its fourth straight road game. The previous team record for points surrendered was in its past game, a 24-11 setback to Dayton on Feb. 27.

Baltimore coach Kenny Cooper pointed to a lack of discipline on defense.

"We let them receive the ball in very dangerous areas," Cooper said. "When you're on the road, you've got to steal games; you've got to keep it close until the fourth quarter."

Tarik Walker's counterattacking goal with 10 seconds to play in the contest tied the NPSL scoring record. Paul Wright, Baltimore's leading scorer, was held to one assist and a shootout goal.

Wichita's Woodberry, who had eight points, said the bigger field at Kansas Coliseum allowed more room to use the Wings' speed.

"When they got the ball, we double-teamed right away," Woodberry said. "We shut down [Paul] Wright. We feel that's the key and we did that tonight."

It was the Spirit's first and only visit to Witchita this season. In the teams' last meeting, a week ago in Baltimore, the Spirit romped, 22-10.

The Wings, fourth in the NPSL's National Division with a 15-15 record, improved to 12-4 at home.

Things didn't start out badly for Baltimore last night. The Spirit took an early five-point lead in the first half, but was outscored 15-8 in the second half by the aggressive Wings (16-15).

The Spirit (22-8) remained in first place in the American Division, and fell to 6-7 on the road.

Wichita beat Spirit goalkeeper Cris Vaccaro on four shootout attempts and beat backup Rusty Troy, also the sixth-attacker, on another.

From the start, it was a shootout, with 16 goals scored in the first half.

SPIRIT TONIGHT

Opponent: Harrisburg Heat

Site: State Farm Show Arena, Harrisburg, Pa.

Time: 7:35

Radio: WWLG (1360 AM), WAMD (970 AM)

Outlook: The Spirit has a 3-0 edge in its rivalry with Harrisburg this season, but by the narrowest of margins -- each win by two points, two in overtime. Harrisburg split a pair of games last weekend, but remains two games behind the Canton Invaders in the fight for the fourth and final playoff spot. The Heat entered this weekend as one of only two National Professional Soccer League teams with a losing home record (7-8); the Chicago Power is the other. Franklin McIntosh is Harrisburg's only player with over 100 points. The Spirit is the NPSL's second-best defensive team behind the Milwaukee Wave; Harrisburg is next-to-last, ahead of the Dayton Dynamo.

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