Stankovic praises Spirit's spirit in 13-10 defeat Regular season ends with loss in Kansas City

March 25, 1996|By Bob Luder | Bob Luder,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Spirit lost, but lived up to its name yesterday at Kemper Arena.

Despite playing short-handed in a meaningless game as far as positioning for the National Professional Soccer League American Division playoffs, the Spirit rallied from a lackluster first half and made a game of it before falling to the Kansas City Attack, 13-10.

The victory gave the Attack, the National Division champion, the best record in the NPSL at 32-8 and handed it home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Spirit (25-15) wrapped up second place and a date with the Harrisburg Heat in the American Division semifinals with its victory Saturday in St. Louis. It will be the second straight season the Spirit has met the Heat in the semis. The Heat won last year.

"It's going to be an interesting series," said Spirit player-coach Mike Stankovic. "I think we're ready for them."

Because the Spirit's position was solid, Stankovic sat himself out yesterday to rest a sore knee. He also sat out second-leading scorer John Garvey because of a pinched back nerve. Also, it was the second straight game without leading scorer Franklin McIntosh, suspended for missing practice last week and left behind in Baltimore.

The Spirit got off to a sluggish start, being held to six shots on goal and one two-point goal as the Attack built an 11-2 halftime lead. Only a goal by Lance Johnson midway through the first quarter kept the Spirit from being shut out.

The Spirit came to life after halftime with four goals, three in a one-minute, 25-second span at the end of the third quarter that cut the Kansas City lead to 11-8.

Jamie Christie started things with a hot shot from the left corner midway through the third.

Baltimore scored the next two points aided by a two-minute pushing penalty by Limniatis. Kevin Sloan scored a shootout goal, then Dave Vaudreuil added a point with a goal on the ensuing power play.

Jason Maricle's two-pointer finished off the rally with three seconds left in the third quarter.

Bobby Joe Esposito's goal at the 1: 15 mark of the fourth closed the gap to a point, but that's as close as the Spirit would get. Kevin Koetters scored the final goal for the Attack.

"The second half, we came out with better intensity, better discipline and better commitment," Stankovic said. "I was pleased we never gave up."

Pub Date: 3/25/96

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