Spirit gives Stankovic winning debut, 13-8 Vaccaro's goaltending ends Rockers' streak at 5

February 04, 1996|By Janie Reilly | Janie Reilly,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

DETROIT -- The last time the Baltimore Spirit played at Cobo Arena, the Detroit Rockers were fighting for a National Professional Soccer League playoff berth and the Spirit was just fighting.

But last night, in defender Mike Stankovic's first game as head coach, the Spirit looked like a different team than the one that closed last season with a five-game losing streak and first-round playoff loss.

The Spirit (14-11) broke a five-game Rockers winning streak, beating Detroit, 13-8, before 4,216. Stankovic replaced Dave MacWilliams as coach Wednesday, after Baltimore had lost eight of its previous 11. Stankovic had a goal and an assist last night.

Assistant coach and goalkeeper Cris Vaccaro made the coach look good by shutting out Detroit (10-17) in the first and third quarters.

The Spirit led 5-0 after one quarter and 9-4 at halftime on three goals and an assist from midfielder Franklin McIntosh, and one goal each by Stankovic and Kevin Sloan.

Vaccaro assisted on McIntosh's third goal at 7:55 of the second quarter, hitting McIntosh with a goal kick as he broke in alone on Detroit goalie Bryan Finnerty's right side. Sloan's goal was a power-play goal.

"A coaching change normally ignites a team," said Vaccaro, who made 20 saves, raising his record to 6-4. "I think we played extremely well as a unit and our defense played very well together. For a goalie to shut out any team in a sport as fast-paced as indoor soccer means the defense is playing well as a unit. And the goals we gave up tonight were typical indoor goals off of third and fourth rebounds."

Baltimore outshot Detroit 11-7 in the first quarter, but the Rockers dominated the second quarter, taking 13 shots to Baltimore's four. Detroit had 46 shots for the game and the Spirit 30. Rockers goalie Bryan Finnerty made 11 saves.

The Spirit made Detroit's defense look bad in the second half when defender Jason Dieter scored a short-handed goal at 9:05 of the third, with the Spirit penalized for too many men. Dieter took a pass from Stankovic and pulled Finnerty out to the left.

Detroit midfielder Doug Landefeld, one of the Rockers' top defenders, left the game in the first quarter after spraining his left foot.

With Detroit's Randy Prescott on as the extra attacker, John Garvey and Lance Johnson worked the give-and-go, with Garvey getting the empty-net goal at 13:03 of the fourth quarter.

The Rockers rallied with two fourth-quarter goals by Tim Ernst and Dennis Brose. Ernst and Scott Lawler scored for Detroit in the first half.

"When you go down by nine points to this kind of team, it is difficult to get back," said Detroit player-coach Pato Margetic, who had two assists. "We missed a lot of our offensive chances, zTC and Cris was one of the reasons. So were the guys behind the line. They played good solid defense.

"I tried to put [Dennis] Brose and myself out at the same time as much as I could in the second half, but it was hard to penetrate."

Spirit ... 4 .. 5 .. 2 .. 2 .. -- .. 13

Detroit .. 0 .. 4 .. 0 .. 4 .. -- .. 8

Spirit today

Opponent: Milwaukee Wave

Site: Bradley Center, Milwaukee

Time: 2:05 p.m.

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

Outlook: Milwaukee took a 13-11 decision in the teams' only previous meeting, Dec. 8. The Wave is in second place behind the red-hot Kansas City Attack in the NPSL National Division. Milwaukee is led by Michael King, who is in the NPSL's top 10 in points along with the Spirit's Franklin McIntosh and Kevin Sloan. The Wave's Victor Nogueira is the league's second-ranked goalie with an 11.8 points-against average.

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