WICHITA, Kan. -- Spirit goalkeeper Joe Mallia and a hustling defense shut down Paul Wright and sparked a 13-7 win over the Wichita Wings last night.
And it wasn't as close as the score might indicate. A three-pointer by John Garvey closed the scoring, and it came with just 1:43 to play.
Mallia set the tone early with some spectacular saves and an inspired defense took it from there in the first meeting between the teams this season.
The Wings went to a sixth attacker with eight minutes left, but for long periods of time could not get the ball inside the yellow line.
"When you go to a sixth attacker you're behind the eight-ball," said the Spirit's Tim Wittman. "We just didn't want to give up a three-pointer. But we came in here and I think we did what we had to do."
What they had to do, coach Dave MacWilliams told them, was to get back to basics. And they did. Williams and the players felt it was the team's strongest defensive performance of the season.
"It was a total effort and the team kept the ball out of the net," said Mallia. "On the road, and especially on the road, that goes a long way."
MacWilliams said the key to the defense was to stop Wings player-coach Kim Roentved and former Spirit star Wright, who had a hat trick Tuesday night in his first game in a Wings uniform.
Wright drew a blank last night, playing his first game against the team he helped lead to its second straight American Division championship last season with 146 points.
Omid Namazi and Lance Johnson did most of the work of stopping Wright.
"But it was a team effort with the forwards and the midfielders pinching back," said MacWilliams. "They worked their tails off."
Roentved, the highest-scoring defender in indoor soccer, starts most of the Wings' scoring thrusts, but the Spirit cut off his passing lanes.
The Spirit (12-6, 4-4 on the road) scored two goals on 3-on-1 counterattacks.
It was the Spirit's first victory in Kansas Coliseum, where it was 0-2 last season.
Defender Jason Dieter got his sixth goal of the season to give the Spirit an 11-2 lead early in the third period.
Roentved answered with a set-play goal but the Spirit defense continued to dominate the game.
The Spirit came close to shutting the Wings out in the first half, allowing only Eddie Henderson a goal from 40 feet with 1:54 left in the second period.
The Spirit's 9-2 halftime lead was built on Jon Parry's five points and Wittman raking in a right-footed shot from a seemingly impossible angle deep in the right corner.