NPSL doormat Chicago steps on Spirit, 10-9 Coach and GM furious over loss to 2-19 team

January 27, 1996|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,SUN STAFF

The Spirit players can't say coach Dave MacWilliams didn't warn them.

Never mind the Chicago Power's 2-19 record, he told them before the game. Never mind that it was the worst in the National Professional Soccer League. Never mind the Power's eight-game losing streak.

"We can't afford to look at their record," MacWilliams said. "You know, on any given night . . ."

If the players absorbed his words, they didn't heed them.

On this given night, the old saw held true. The Power rose up and struck the lifeless Spirit, 10-9, last night before 4,771 at Baltimore Arena.

In the Spirit locker room, MacWilliams and general manager Drew Forrester were in a rage. They slammed doors and knocked over the blackboard.

"This is the most embarrassed I've felt," MacWilliams said. "Some guys just don't care. It eats at me. I'm sick. These guys are shortchanging Drew, the owner [Bill Stealey] and the fans."

Forrester, calming down, noted that men like MacWilliams and Mike Stankovic "love" the organization.

"Some others don't love it or respect what it does for them,Forrester said. "One of these days they'll look back and realize how great they were treated. Tonight, they weren't good enough to be with an organization of this stature."

A two-point header by Zelimir Antonijevic proved to be the win

ning goal, giving the Power a one-point margin it nursed to the end.

To reinforce his "any given night" point, MacWilliams cited the recent accomplishments of other lowly NPSL teams. The Detroit Rockers had won three straight, the expansion Tampa Bay Terror three of its past five.

The Power, the NPSL doormat, had its glorious night, and the Spirit had one of its most miserable. In a listless third quarter, the Spirit came up empty. Chicago roused itself for a goal by Mark Schlenker for an 8-4 edge.

A three-pointer by the Spirit's Kevin Sloan and a two-pointer by Stankovic 24 seconds later gave the Spirit its only lead of the night at 9-8 early in the fourth quarter. But Antonijevic's goal clinched it for Chicago.

In goal were Joe Mallia for the Spirit and Doug Petras for the Power. Petras will be remembered as the man who helped beat the Spirit for Harrisburg in Game 3 of the first round of last season's playoffs.

Petras had 20 saves, compared to five for Mallia, who faced only 10 shots.

NOTES: The Spirit's Barry Stitz (sprained ankle), Jamie Christie (pulled hamstring), Brad Smith (pulled hamstring) and Dave Vaudreuil (strained stomach muscle) missed the game. Vaudreuil will undergo surgery to repair a tear in his abdominal wall Monday at Union Memorial Hospital. He is expected to be out four weeks. . . . The Spirit's Bobby Joe Esposito needs two points to become the 35th player in NPSL history to score 400 regular-season points.

Chicago .. 6 .. 0 .. 2 .. 2 .. -- .. 10

Spirit ... 2 .. 2 .. 0 .. 5 .. -- ... 9

Spirit tonight

Opponent: Wichita Wings

Site: Kansas Coliseum, Wichita, Kan.

Time: 8:35

Radio: WWLG (1360 AM), WASA (1330 AM)

Outlook: This is the teams' second and last meeting this season. The Spirit won the first, 23-10, Tuesday night at home. Rookie Paul Dailey led Wichita with a pair of two-point goals, giving him 56 points in 21 games this season. The Spirit has a 5-4 edge in the rivalry. Ted Eck is Wichita's scoring leader, the only Wing in the NPSL's top 20.

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