Down 1-0, Stankovic wants Spirit to go on offensive Seeks finishing attacks in Game 2 vs. Cleveland

April 07, 1996|By Jeff Schudel | Jeff Schudel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CLEVELAND -- Stepping out of the shower Friday night after his team lost, 15-11, to the Crunch in Game 1 of the American Division finals, Spirit coach Mike Stankovic said all Baltimore had to do in Game 2 tonight was win to get things even.

After a night to sleep on it -- or perhaps to toss and turn on it -- Stankovic said it will take more than a few better bounces to square the best-of-five series before heading home to the Baltimore Arena for Game 3 Tuesday. Kickoff is 6 tonight at the Cleveland State Convocation Center.

"We gave them some bad goals and we usually don't do that," Stankovic said before yesterday's practice. "We have to take better control of the ball. We gave it up too quickly a few times, and that meant a couple easy goals for Hector Marinaro. We can't let that happen again."

Stankovic also wants the Spirit to do a better job finishing offensive attacks. Baltimore launched 43 shots but only five found the back of the net, and one of those was a three-pointer by David Vaudreuil. What is maddening to Stankovic is the chances were legitimate, not just errant shots from bad angles: Kevin Sloan had eight shots, one goal; John Garvey had seven shots, no goals. Stankovic had six shots but only one goal.

"We have some adjustments to make," Stankovic said. "We had three-on-two's and four-on-three's and we couldn't score. We were always a half-step behind.

"We were flat. The Harrisburg series took a lot out of us. Cleveland didn't finish a lot of goals themselves. I think the Buffalo series might have taken a lot out of them. I know both teams can play better."

One man could help the Spirit finish goals -- Franklin McIntosh. He led the National Professional Soccer league with 77 assists in the regular season. Stankovic suspended his All-Star midfielder with two games left in the regular season and has no plans to reinstate him.

"I don't think that would make any difference," Stankovic said. "You could say we miss Brad Smith [Achilles' injury]. Who knows? We have to regroup.

"Cleveland is a good team. This is an important game for us. We wanted to win the first game and get out of Cleveland with a split, but if we go 0-2, we'll have to deal with it."

The Crunch also will make adjustments. Coach Bruce Miller was content with his team's defense but wants better offense.

A key player for the Crunch is Doug Miller, whose goal at 4: 17 of the fourth quarter Friday made the score 14-11. The Spirit knows about Marinaro, who had five goals on 14 shots. Miller is the fastest Cleveland player but doesn't always play under control.

"I hit four posts and then got the goal [Friday night]," Miller said with a sigh. "I guess that's the formula for me."

The formula for the Spirit is controlled passing, which could result in better finishing and not being caught out of position defensively. It is the formula that got them to the American Division final for the first time in four years in the NPSL.

Pub Date: 4/07/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.