Despite Henning-led comeback, Blizzard blows past Spirit, 11-6 Forward's three late goals can't prevent sixth loss

November 22, 1997|By Kris Wilde | Kris Wilde,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The rally fell short.

Despite a fourth-quarter hat trick by forward Michael Henning, the Spirit fell to the Buffalo Blizzard, 11-6, last night in a National Professional League Soccer game.

The 8,817 fans on hand at the Marine Midland Arena watched the Spirit make its way back from an 8-0, fourth-quarter deficit to pull within a goal on three unanswered, sixth-attacker goals by Henning.

Henning, a Towson High graduate, set up camp in front of the Buffalo net and knocked in three rebounds past Blizzard goalie Billy Andracki, only to watch Buffalo forward Rudy Pikuzinski ice the game with an empty-net three-pointer with just 50 seconds remaining in the game.

The Spirit (1-6), which entered the game with the worst record in the franchise's history and with a two-quarter scoreless streak, continued to struggle on both sides of the ball.

On offense, the Spirit seemed out of synch until Henning's outburst, while defensively it gave the Blizzard (5-1) a lot of space to work with.

"We had our opportunities today," Spirit coach Mike Stankovic said. "We just couldn't capitalize.

"It's frustrating. The indoor game doesn't come overnight to a lot of these younger guys."

"We've got to learn how to finish the open shot," Henning said. "Things won't change until we start doing that."

He didn't want to hear excuses.

"We've been together for two months now," he said. "After the first few games, I can see youth being a problem, but soccer is soccer. We've got to get this thing going."

Spirit tonight

Opponent: Buffalo Blizzard.

Site: Baltimore Arena.

Time: 7: 35.

Radio: WCBM (680 AM).

Outlook: Spirit hopes to get back to a .500 record at home after losing to Milwaukee in overtime the other day. The team started the season with a .780 win percentage (78-22) in its five-year arena history. G Jim McCombs, D Lance Johnson and D Mike Mekelburg have injuries, but are expected to play.

Pub Date: 11/22/97

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