Tim Wittman's return to the lineup gave the Spirit a boost last night, but not a big enough one as the Kansas City Attack took its first lead in the final two minutes and held on for a 17-16 victory at Baltimore Arena.
Kansas City's Wes Wade, the National Professional Soccer League's assist leader, scored an empty-net goal with 1:01 remaining that proved to be the difference.
Jon Parry gave his former teammates something to think about when he scored a three-pointer with 20 seconds left, but the Attack played keepaway to run out the clock.
Parry, Barry Stitz and Kevin Sloan each had two goals for the Spirit (15-9).
Wittman, who missed the last three games for what Spirit coach Dave MacWilliams called "behavior detrimental to the team," scored a two-pointer and assisted on three others.
"I think we blew it. We slacked off in the second half and they took advantage of it and kept pushing and pushing and pushing," said Wittman. "If you keep letting a team come back, it's like a boxer who keeps letting his opponent press; eventually he's going to get knocked out and that's exactly what happened here."
Five days after setting a franchise record for points in a game in a 29-10 win over Dayton, the Spirit was held to two goals in the second half.
Playing without Franklin McIntosh, who was suspended one game by the NPSL for an altercation with a player in last Sunday's win over Dayton, the Spirit managed to take a 5-0 lead in the first quarter after an unassisted power-play goal by Parry and two-pointers from Mike Stankovic and Sloan.
The Attack (18-8) pulled back to within two with 1:06 left in the first quarter when Robi Goff scored a three-pointer on a feed from Brian Haynes.
Stitz upped Baltimore's lead to four just under two minutes into the second quarter, but the Attack cut the margin to one on a power-play goal and two-pointer by Haynes that hit off of Spirit defender Chris Morgan.
Goalie Chris Vaccaro, back from the flu, finished with 11 saves, one of which caromed off his head in the waning seconds of the first half, helping preserve Baltimore's 11-9 lead.
Goff tied the game at 11 with 2:40 into the second half on a feed from Haynes, but the Spirit got the lead back 11 minutes later on an unassisted goal by Wittman.
"They just out-worked us at the end and we let them back in it," said Spirit defender Lance Johnson. "They worked harder and harder and harder and we didn't pick our intensity up and they started beating us down the floor and getting three-on-twos and three-on-ones, and you can only withstand that kind of pressure for so long."
Kansas City .. 3 .. 6 .. 2 .. 6 .. -- .. 17
Baltimore .... 5 .. 6 .. 2 .. 3 .. -- .. 16