Sloan helps Spirit elude Crunch

November 06, 1994|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Sun Staff Writer

It's a good thing for the Spirit that the Cleveland Crunch was without half of its one-two scoring punch.

One half, Zoran Karic, was problem enough.

But Karic's six goals, matching his career high, and 15 points left Cleveland a point shy. Kevin Sloan's one-point shootout with 24 seconds remaining gave the Spirit an 18-17 victory over the Crunch last night before 4,414 at the Baltimore Arena.

Sloan, acquired from the Dayton Dynamo, scored 10 points on five goals and an assist. The five matched the team record shared by Goran Hunjak, Jon Parry, Paul Wright and Doug Neely. Another newcomer, Brad Smith, scored three goals.

"We're not a one-man team like Cleveland is with Karic," Sloan said. "We can punish you with a lot of players. This was a great team win. I didn't do anything special, except happen to be in the right place at the right time."

The Spirit was spared a confrontation with Cleveland's other scoring machine, Hector Marinaro, who has missed the past two games with a strained thigh muscle. Karic and Marinaro were one-two in the NPSL last season with 267 and 253 points, respectively. And, going into last night's game, they were two-three behind Dayton's Dennis Brose.

Spirit coach Dave MacWilliams, annoyed by the team's lack of intensity after Friday's overtime win over the Canton Invaders, had no such complaint last night.

"It was a typical Baltimore-Cleveland game -- down to the wire," MacWilliams said. "We were down 17-13, missed a penalty shot, yet still came back to win. The team showed a lot of heart and character."

Two and a half minutes into the fourth quarter, the Spirit trailed 17-13. Smith then scored his third goal and Barry Stitz his first to tie it at 17, setting the stage for Sloan's winning strike.

The first half was tight, with neither team leading by more than two points and the Spirit ahead at intermission, 7-6.

Smith, who joined the team last week from the Dynamo, had three- and two-point goals in the half, giving him eight points in his first six quarters with the Spirit.

Henri Gutierrez had two goals for Cleveland, including one on a power play that represented the first surrendered by the Spirit penalty-killing unit in eight tries this year.

The Spirit played without Parry, tied for third in the NPSL with 21 points, after he sprained his ankle Friday night. Parry had played in 103 consecutive NPSL games.

"The doctors say if I can walk normally Monday, maybe I'll be out only 10 days," Parry said. "That's optimistic. If I can't walk then, it'll be longer, which is what I'm figuring on."

NOTES: Joe Mallia started in goal for the Spirit for the second straight game, in part because No. 1 Cris Vaccaro has a bruised thigh and also because he had a "decent game" in the 14-12 win over the Canton Invaders, MacWilliams said. . . . Tarik Walker sat out with ankle and knee injuries. . . .The Spirit's next two games are on the road, Friday against the Chicago Power and Saturday against the Invaders. . . . Cleveland coach Gary Hindley once coached four Spirit members -- MacWilliams and Vaccaro with the Major Indoor Soccer League's Chicago Sting in 1987-88 and midfielders Sloan and Philip Gyau with the 1991 Maryland Bays, who went 19-2.

Cleveland 4 2 8 3 -- 17

Baltimore 3 4 6 5 -- 18

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