Knowles' late three-point goal carries Wave over Spirit, 12-11 Defeat is the first for Stankovic as coach

February 05, 1996|By David Schwabe | David Schwabe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

MILWAUKEE -- New Baltimore Spirit coach Mike Stankovic no longer is perfect.

Matt Knowles of the Milwaukee Wave put the first blotch on Stankovic's record by knocking in a late three-point goal to defeat Baltimore, 12-11, yesterday.

"I think we played well to only give up 12 points," said Stankovic, who scored two goals. "We played a tough game [Saturday] night, and I don't want to make excuses, but we gave them an easy shot to win at the end."

Knowles scored the winner at 6:39 in the fourth quarter by catching Spirit goalkeeper Joe Mallia out of position. Mallia left the goal to help clear a ball in Baltimore's end. But he was powerless when Knowles intercepted the ball at the half line and chipped a three-pointer into the unguarded net to give Milwaukee a 12-9 lead.

"Obviously, there was a mistake there," Stankovic said. "But I don't want to point at an individual player. I want our team to be united and collectively pick it up when a mistake is made."

Franklin McIntosh added a goal at 11:12 to bring Baltimore within 12-11, but the Spirit could not convert thereafter. Stankovic came on as sixth attacker with 2:48 left in the game, but Wave goalkeeper Victor Nogueira stopped Kevin Sloan's header with 20 seconds left to end the Spirit's chances.

The Spirit had defeated the Detroit Rockers, 13-8, Saturday night in Stankovic's debut. The 39-year old defender was hired as coach Wednesday after Dave MacWilliams stepped down Monday.

Baltimore played a sound game against Milwaukee, making few errors on defense. The Spirit held a 9-7 lead after three quarters but allowed a goal by Michael King at 4:50 of the fourth to tie the game at 9 before Knowles' winning shot.

"Our guys kept fighting back," Wave coach Keith Tozer said. "I have a lot of respect for Baltimore and Mike Stankovic, but our guys came through when we needed it."

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