With so many newcomers, Spirit has expansion look Veterans' replacements are new to indoor game

October 15, 1997|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Just 10 days before the start of its season and half the roster of the Spirit gives the impression that this is an expansion franchise.

"That's what happens when you lose five experienced vets," said coach Mike Stankovic.

But the coach saw some "promising things" from the raft of newcomers while the team was losing to the more-experienced Harrisburg Heat, 16-10, in an exhibition match at Baltimore Arena yesterday.

With midfielders Jamie Christie and Albert Oni shaved from the veteran roster that started training camp two weeks ago, the Spirit will be relying heavily on 10 returnees from last year's 20-20 team while bringing along several rookies with minimal indoor soccer experience.

"We'll have another four or five guys in to look at, but, for the most part, we're pretty well set with our 17 players once we [ make a cut] at the end of the week," Stankovic said. "After that, it's a case of finding out who's better and who fits into the chemistry of the team better."

In effect, the Spirit signed a half-dozen players out of a semi-pro summer league (EISL), and it was their first experience with the indoor game.

"After only eight days of practice and a couple of exhibitions, it's understandable that guys fall into mistakes that are only corrected with experience," the coach said. "Fortunately, we have one more exhibition [tomorrow in Harrisburg] and six or seven practices to work on things and our conditioning."

The Spirit fell behind the Heat early, with free agent Mark Tirschman (Overlea High, Salisbury State) getting the only goal as it trailed 8-2 at halftime. Two-point scores by Shane Dougherty, Sasa Zoric and Bo Vuckovic closed the gap to 10-8 after three periods before the visitors pulled away in the last six minutes. Rookie Reinhold Huber also had a goal for the Spirit.

Last week, the Spirit lost to the Philadelphia Kixx, 15-9, but did not use any of its veteran players. The team opens the regular season in Philadelphia a week from Saturday, then conducts its home opener against St. Louis on Nov. 1.

Pub Date: 10/15/97

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