Cooper apologizes to crowd for drubbing

April 02, 1994|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Sun Staff Writer

No sooner had the game ended than Spirit coach Kenny Cooper strode onto the field and grabbed a microphone.

"I apologize for our performance tonight," Cooper said to the fans. "Thanks for coming out."

The rare act by a coach was triggered by the Spirit's uninspired play in a 15-5 loss to the Harrisburg Heat last night at the Baltimore Arena before 9,122, the third-largest crowd of the season and fourth-largest in club history.

"It was fan appreciation night, and our fans deserved an apology," Cooper said later. "I've never done that [publicly apologize], but I'm not too proud to do it. We tried to play pretty soccer, but you can't win that way. We had no passion."

The Spirit will have to wait until after tonight's games to learn the identity of its playoff opponent.

Will it be the Canton Invaders or Harrisburg in the opening round of the NPSL's American Division playoffs? The Spirit clinched the division title last weekend, but Harrisburg and Canton are still battling for the fourth and final spot.

Canton, after its 12-9 road win over the Buffalo Blizzard Thursday night, is 18-21 entering tonight's game at the Chicago Power. Harrisburg, 18-21 after the win over Baltimore, will entertain the Spirit tonight.

If the teams finish tied at 19-21, the Heat will get the playoff spot because it won the season's series against Canton, 3-1.

If it's Canton, the best-of-three series against the Spirit will start Tuesday in Canton, followed by games at the Arena a week from tonight and, if necessary, April 11. If Harrisburg makes it, the playoffs will start there Friday night and continue at the Arena the same two dates.

The defeat in its final regular-season home game was the Spirit's second in 20 games at the Arena. The Spirit's previous lowest points total at home was six against the Wichita Wings in January 1993. The club's lowest anywhere was two in Buffalo this year.

Danny Kelly paced Harrisburg with four goals. Franklin McIntosh had three, and goalie Brett Phillips scored the first of his career. Clark Brisson led the Spirit with two.

NOTES: Scoring leader Paul Wright and G Cris Vaccaro were named the Spirit's offensive and defensive players of the year, respectively, by coaches and club officials. Tarik Walker was voted rookie of the year and Barry Stitz got the unsung hero award. . . . Wright (tender knee) and Vaccaro (fractured nose) are sitting out both Harrisburg games as a breather before the playoffs. Rookie Shawn Boehmcke made his fifth start in goal. He replaced the injured Vaccaro in the second quarter Tuesday night, made nine saves and was credited with the victory over the Buffalo Blizzard when Mike Stankovic scored the game-winner in overtime. . . . Joe Koziol missed his third straight game with a pulled hamstring. John Abe was out with a bruised thigh. . . . Coach Kenny Cooper considered resting "bionic men" Rusty Troy and Doug Neely, but both wanted to play. They may sit out tonight. . . . The Heat's Lee Tschantret played despite a broken toe, as did Kelly despite a sprained ankle.

Harrisburg 7 2 0 6 -- 15

Baltimore .2 0 2 1 -- 5

First period -- 1. Baltimore, Brisson, 2 pt. (Dade), 4:26. 2. Harrisburg, Kelly, 2 pt. (unassisted), 4:51. 3. Harrisburg, McIntosh, 2 pt. (Lilley), 10:24. 4. Harrisburg, McIntosh, 2 pt. (unassisted), 11:06. Harrisburg, Kelly, 1 pt. (shootout), 12:04. Penalties -- None.

Second period -- 6. Harrisburg, Kelly, 1 pt. (shootout), 5:45. 7. Harrisburg, Kelly, 1 pt. (shootout), 13:01. Penalties -- Stankovic, Bal (boarding), 5:45. Hunjak, Bal (misconduct), 5:45. Dade, Bal, tripping, 13:01.

Third period -- 8. Baltimore, Hunjak, 1 pt. (Brisson), pp, 1:16. 9. Baltimore, Brisson, 1 pt. (shootout), 12:34. Penalties -- Tschantret, Har (unsportsmanlike conduct), :47. McIntosh, Har (elbowing), 12:34.

Fourth period -- 10. Harrisburg, Lilley, 2 pt. (Smith), 2:17. 11. Harrisburg, McIntosh, 2 pt. (Chinapoo), 7:59. 12. Baltimore, Troy, 1 pt. (Stankovic), pp, 9:59. 13. Harrisburg, Phillips, 2 pt. (unassisted), 14:05. Penalties -- Phillips, Har (unsportsmanlike conduct), 3:46. McIntosh, Har (dangerous play), 9:56.

Shots on goal -- Harrisburg 7-11-1-5--24. Baltimore 5-6-6-11--28. Goalies -- Harrisburg, Phillips (14 shots, 10 saves); Valenzuela (1 shot, 1 save). Baltimore, Boehmcke (13 shots, 5 saves); Troy (1 shot, 0 saves). Referees -- Rudy, P. Tamberino, Bailey. A -- 9,122.

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