Tampa Bay Terror player-coach Derrick Marcano couldn't have asked for a more pleasant homecoming.
Marcano, who played for Cardinal Gibbons, Essex Community College, Towson State, the Bays and the Spirit, thought it was wonderful enough just to be back in his hometown for one night.
"This is exciting to be here," he said before the game. "It's my city; it's where I started. My heart is here and so is my family."
The excitement didn't stop there. Marcano and the Terror also got a pulsating 23-20 victory over the Spirit before 2,681 at Baltimore Arena.
The game turned into a battle of three-pointers in the third quarter. When the shooting stopped, the teams had combined for nine three-pointers, a National Professional Soccer League record. Marcano had one of Tampa Bay's five, a league record by one team.
"That win was for one of our owners, Tony Agnone," Marcano said. "He had never seen us win in this building."
In early January, Marcano succeeded Perry Van Der Beck, who succeeded Kenny Cooper, who stepped down as coach after a disagreement with the league, but remains as Terror president. Cooper wasn't with the team last night.
Under Marcano, the Terror, 11-23 in its second season, is still in contention for the sixth and final playoff spot in the NPSL's
American Conference. Last night's victory, and the way it was achieved, will serve as a spur.
"As long as we can stay in the game, we have quick people who can pull it out at the end," Marcano said. "We came here to win."
The evening was sour for the Spirit, playing its fourth game in five days. The club lost an opportunity to pull even with the Harrisburg Heat in the East Division, but now, with its 17-18 record, trails by a full game.
The third quarter was wild. The teams combined for 17 points, 11 by Tampa. At one point, the Terror scored three goals, for eight points, in 17 seconds to take an 18-13 lead.
The Spirit came back with three goals, including Nos. 3 and 4 of the game by Bo Vuckovic -- to take a 20-18 advantage. But Tampa Bay scored the game's final goals, including a three-pointer by Michael Gailey and a two by Mariano Bollella, for the victory.
The Spirit provided a perfect example of the wisdom of employing three goalies.
When Cris Vaccaro bowed out of his start because of a swollen wrist, Joe Mallia opened and was doing nicely until peppered in the third quarter. On came Jim McCombs to finish.
Vaccaro has an 8-7 record, Mallia is 6-7 and McCombs, who absorbed the loss, is 3-3. The Spirit is the only team in the league with three goalies with at least 395 minutes apiece.
"Not too many goalies play all 40 games," said Vaccaro, the Spirit assistant coach, as well as goalie. "It's nice to be able to get a rest and, if there's an injury, the team has confidence in the backup if he's had previous playing time."
NOTES: Spirit forward Jimmy Glenn has 13 goals, all but two on the road. Nesko Milovanovic, who scored 28 points in 21 games for the Spirit before returning to his native Yugoslavia, is playing outdoors in the German League, although he's currently on the disabled list with a sprained ankle. Spirit forward Bobby Joe Esposito (pneumonia) missed the game.
Pub Date: 3/05/97