American battle is over second, third and fourth

March 12, 1996|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The Buffalo Blizzard captured the eighth and final berth in the National Professional Soccer League playoffs with Sunday's 19-13 win over the Detroit Rockers.

The Blizzard, which faces four straight games on the road, strengthened itself and improved its postseason chances by acquiring Marcelo Carrera from the Canton Invaders for cash and future considerations.

Carrera, an NPSL All-Star who has 116 points this season, should feel right at home in Buffalo, since the Blizzard also acquired Canton's All-Star defender and player/coach, Denzil Antonio.

Carrera and Antonio took 13 and 10 shots, respectively, in the playoff-clinching win over Detroit, which featured a league-high 73 shots by Buffalo.

The Blizzard (20-15) joined Baltimore, Cleveland and Harrisburg as the American Division representatives. With the Crunch having clinched the division title and the home-field advantage that goes with it, the American Division is now a battle for second place, with Baltimore in the driver's seat.

If the Spirit (22-13) can win two of its last four games -- all on the road -- it would clinch second place, because Baltimore won the season series with Buffalo.

Baltimore, Buffalo and Harrisburg all can finish second, third or fourth. Harrisburg is 20-16, but the schedule is in its favor, with three of its last games at home. Buffalo and the Heat will meet March 22 in Harrisburg in what could be a pivotal game as teams jockey for position.

Marinaro honored

Hector Marinaro of the Crunch was named NPSL Player of the Week after scoring nine points in a 15-11 road win over the Tampa Bay Terror last week.

In the game, Marinaro scored two three-point goals, one two-point goal and one one-pointer, giving him 218 points (83 goals) in 29 games. This is the fourth consecutive season that Marinaro has scored more than 200 points.

The only other player in the league to score 200 points or more in a season is Marinaro's teammate, Zoran Karic, who has done it three times.

Spirit record

Forward Franklin McIntosh set a Spirit single-season points record with 169, breaking the record of 165 set last season by Kevin Sloan.

Cris Vaccaro has won eight of his past nine decisions in goal and is 12-4. Last season, bothered by injuries, he finished 9-11.

Looking north

The NPSL played its first game outside the United States on Sunday. The Kansas City Attack defeated the Chicago Power, 13-8, before 3,267 at the Verdun Auditorium in Montreal.

Canadians will get to see more NPSL action next season when the Toronto Shooting Stars begin league play.

The Spirit played a neutral-site game in November in front of 13,000 in Philadelphia, and the league plans to play neutral-site games next season in Worcester, Mass., and New Haven, Conn.

Pub Date: 3/12/96

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