NPSL doormat Chicago steps on Spirit, 10-9 Antonijevic's late goal lifts Power to third win

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 were powerless to heed them.

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

A two-point header by Chicago's Zelimir Antonijevic proved to be the winning goal, giving the Power a one-point margin it nursed to the end.

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

The Power, the NPSL doormat, had its night, and the Spirit had one of its most miserable.

In a listless third quarter, the Spirit came up totally 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 Mike Stankovic within 24 seconds of each other 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 the Harrisburg Heat in Game 3 of the first round of last season's NPSL playoffs.

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

Chicago scored on its first three shots of the game, using a pair of two-point goals by Joey Kirk, including a dandy header, and one by Tony Bono for a 6-2 first-quarter lead. Jason Maricle accounted for the Spirit's score.

The second quarter was uneventful. Sloan, who broke Goran Hunjak's Spirit career points record Tuesday night against the Wichita Wings, tapped in the lone second-quarter goal to raise his points total to 253. The Power nursed its lead and led at halftime, 6-4.

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 man in NPSL history to score 400 regular-season points. The Harrisburg Heat's Mark Pulisic is three away.

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 Baltimore Arena. 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 National Professional Soccer League's top 20.

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