If McIntosh attains his goal, Spirit stands to bear dividend Eighth-year player 18 points shy of 1,000

February 23, 1996|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Excuse Franklin McIntosh if he sounds selfish. It's really for the good of the Spirit.

As the Spirit starts its three-games-in-three-days marathon tonight, McIntosh is trying to become the first player in the 12-year history of the NPSL to reach the 1,000-point career mark.

He is only 18 points shy, and needs only an average of six points over this three-game stretch. McIntosh leads the Spirit this season with 129 points.

"Anything is possible," said McIntosh, an NPSL all-star who is in his eighth year in the league. "Right now, I need six points a game, and that's my average. So I think I can do it. I just want to get out there and get it over with."

The reason McIntosh wants to reach the goal is to remove any distraction from the Spirit's postseason objective. The Spirit is only 1 1/2 games behind second-place Buffalo in a battle of home-field advantage for the first round of the best-of-three playoffs.

But don't misinterpret McIntosh. The record is significant to him, especially the attention it attracts from fellow players.

"One thousand points shows that I've been a consistent player," he said. "It's great that my peers appreciate it. The management and media try and make a big deal of this, but the recognition from my peers is the best part."

Spirit coach Mike Stankovic said there's no doubt that McIntosh has his priorities in order.

"It's a good accomplishment for Franklin," Stankovic said. "But he's concentrating on the team here and right now. He knows that it's going to happen sooner or later."

And McIntosh said he'll try to not think of the record, especially during this critical three-game span. After back-to-back games with last-place Canton, the Spirit plays at Buffalo.

This stretch comes at the right time for the Spirit, which hasn't played in nearly two weeks and seems to be catching a second wind. For the first time since the season began, 19 players practiced and a new optimism has surfaced.

"Personally, I think we needed the time off with the coaching change and the team playing bad and then well," McIntosh said. "We're practicing better now than we ever had this season. It's like we're beginning back at the first day of the season."

However, Stankovic worries that the Spirit might experience fatigue by the time it faces Buffalo, the most important game of the three-day set.

"We'll play everybody," Stankovic said. "We'll need legs. Obviously, there's no way we're going to avoid getting tired."

Spirit tonight

Opponent: Canton Invaders

Site: Canton (Ohio) Memorial Civic Center

Time: 7:35

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

Outlook: This is the first of three games in three days for the Spirit, which is coming off a 13-day break. The Invaders visit Baltimore tomorrow and the Spirit travels to the Buffalo Blizzard on Sunday. Canton, 4-26 and last in the NPSL American Division, has lost five straight and nine of its past 10. The Spirit has won three of four, losing the other by a point, since Mike Stankovic became head coach. Midfielder Dave Vaudreuil is expected to play for the first time since undergoing surgery for for a tear in his abdominal wall Jan. 29.

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