Ambush spoils Spirit's home opener, 14-8 Moser's 4 goals spark win

Vuckovic nets 3 for Spirit

November 02, 1997|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

Bo Vuckovic had another big game for the Spirit last night, scoring a hat trick. But his offense constituted nearly all the points the team could muster, as it was beaten by the St. Louis Ambush, 14-8, at the Baltimore Arena.

The loss dropped the Spirit to 0-2 and ended its streak of having won five straight home openers.

As good as Vuckovic was, however, Mark Moser was even better for the unbeaten visitors (3-0).

The St. Louis native had a hat trick plus one, his fourth two-pointer breaking an 8-8 tie 5 minutes, 22 seconds into the closing period. He then assisted on an insurance goal by Scott McDaniel four minutes later.

"I learned a lot of things, but I am very disappointed," said Spirit goalie Khalil Azmi of his first start indoors after 16 seasons outdoors, including participation in the 1994 World Cup. "I have to learn a lot of things, like when to play the ball with my feet and when to go with my hands."

If the Moroccan was disappointed, coach Mike Stankovic wasn't, pointing out, "For a first game indoors, Khalil played very well. He made a lot of big saves to keep us in there. He needs to read the game a little better, but that will come."

Azmi, who may end up splitting goaltending duties with Jim McCoombs, isn't the only Spirit player who has to "read" the game better.

"There's a couple of things we have to work on," said Stankovic of his position players. "This is a little smaller surface than others in the league and that dictates a little different style.

"Then we have to develop some patience, which isn't any easy thing to do for young players. St. Louis scored 24 points against Cincinnati in their last game and here we were tied at 8-8 in the fourth period. We were doing a terrific job. But they remained patient and they ended up beating us on three fairly easy goals."

It was tough for the Spirit to remain patient in the face of the goaltending job Jamie Swanner was sending its way. Vuckovic might have had twice as many goals if Swanner wasn't halting his bullet-like shots.

Vuckovic's second and third goals, giving him six in two games, tied the game early in the final period after Moser's natural hat trick (goals scored consecutively) had given St. Louis an 8-4 lead late in the third quarter.

Shane Dougherty's third goal of the season had given the Spirit its lone lead after 2: 36 of the second quarter, before Moser scored twice for St. Louis, at 3: 41 and at 10: 06, to give his team a 6-4 lead at intermission.

"You need to know how to close a game," said Stankovic. He's convinced these things will come because he's satisfied with the work habits of his team so far.

In direct contrast to the up-and-down tempo in last week's opening loss in Philadelphia, the Spirit and Ambush played very deliberately, waiting for an opening during the first 30 minutes.

The first break came when Daryl Doran chipped a nice feed from Matt McAvin past Azmi after the midpoint of the opening period. A couple of minutes later, Vuckovic squared the count for Baltimore with his fourth goal of the campaign.

NOTES: Vuckovic has passed the 300-point mark in his third season in the NPSL. High-scoring Branko Segota is still bothered by a strained knee and it is uncertain when he will be returned to the Spirit roster. The Spirit has another week off before meeting the Kixx in Philadelphia on Saturday. The next home game is Nov. 15 against Cincinnati.

Pub Date: 11/02/97

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