Spirit suffers worst defeat of season, 25-11, to Drillers Third-best NPSL defense yields 17 points in 1st half

March 01, 1997|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,SUN STAFF

This wasn't what the Spirit had in mind for starters as it began a busy five-day period.

Pummeled for 17 first-half points, the Spirit bowed to the Edmonton Drillers, 25-11, last night before 5,618 at Baltimore Arena. The 14-point margin of defeat made it the worst loss of the season.

"We were lousy defensively," player-coach Mike Stankovic said. "The defense almost wasn't existing."

As a result, the Spirit dropped into a first-place tie with the Harrisburg Heat in the National Professional Soccer League's East Division. That knot will be unraveled today when those .500 teams, each 16-16, play here.

In the first quarter, Edmonton battered the proud Spirit defense -- ranked third in the NPSL -- for 13 points, a club-record yield for one period. The Drillers made it 17-2 six minutes into the second period and led at halftime, 17-4. The most points the Spirit has allowed in a half is 18 to the Buffalo Blizzard in 1994.

The Spirit's defensive sins were many and by no means was goalie Cris Vaccaro completely at fault.

Several times defenders failed to get back quickly, leaving Vaccaro naked to face the assault. Vaccaro, who had a 5-1 record and 9.71 points-against average in his previous seven games, himself was slow on one occasion to retreat to the cage, and seemed out of position another time or two.

There were Drillers goals on deflections. There were Drillers shots that bounced off a post and into the goal. There were boos at the end of the first quarter, when the game was all but over.

Less than 11 minutes into the game, Edmonton's Nick DeSantis had a hat trick. He finished with indoor soccer's cycle -- a three-point goal, three two-pointers, a one-pointer and an assist. Carmen D'Onofrio also turned in a hat trick.

From Baltimore's side, the highlight was a pair of goals by Jason Dieter, raising his season points total to 44 and matching his career record as a rookie in 1992-93. Rookie Sasa Zoric also scored two goals.

It was particularly galling to the Spirit that Edmonton had dropped six of its previous seven games and had a 2-10 road record. The Drillers' win snapped a six-game road losing streak.

"Obviously, we've got to play better than this," Stankovic said. "We have to put it behind us and go on."

Spirit today

Opponent: Harrisburg Heat

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: 2:05

Radio: Updates after each quarter on WWLG (1360 AM) and WASA (1330 AM).

Outlook: This is another Spirit-Heat battle for first place in the NPSL's East Division. The rivalry this season is knotted at 2-2. In their last meeting, Jan. 4 in Harrisburg, the Heat won, 13-6. Harrisburg is coming off Wednesday's 12-10 overtime win on the road against Edmonton. Mark Pulisic leads Harrisburg in scoring with 100 points and is No. 10 in the NPSL, a notch below the Spirit's Bo Vuckovic.

Pub Date: 3/01/97

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