Offensive road woes break Spirit Lack of scoring sends youthful team on defensive

December 26, 1997|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

With 11 losses in its first 14 outings, the problems of the Spirit are well-documented. A lack of offensive production and a defense that occasionally breaks down has led to the struggle, particularly on the road where it is 0-7.

Coach Mike Stankovic knows how to travel the road to improvement.

"Nobody likes what's going on," he said, referring to the tedious process of rebuilding a team with inexperienced players. "But that's where we are right now. All we can do is keep our heads up and keep training."

Veteran defender Ron Simmons said: "You not only have to learn a system, you have to execute it properly. Then it's a case of playing it better and better."

There was a recent seven-game stretch during which the Spirit held the opposition to an average of 13 points.

"We should be able to get 15 points a game," Stankovic said.

However, during five of those games, the Spirit averaged fewer than 10 points and lost all five.

At home, the Spirit has been marginally better. It is 3-4 at Baltimore Arena heading into tonight's 7: 35 game against the Philadelphia Kixx. The Spirit holds a 106-105 scoring edge in home games and has been outscored 116-70 on the road. The Spirit will play road games on tomorrow and Sunday.

"Naturally, you don't want to settle for a .500 season starting out," Simmons said.

"The way I look at it is to set that as your immediate goal since a break-even season will get you into the playoffs. Then you go from there."

NOTES: The Spirit is 0-3 against the Kixx, all in Philadelphia. The Spirit plays at Harrisburg at 7: 35 p.m. tomorrow and in Cleveland at 3: 05 p.m. Sunday. College draft choices David Hesch, a midfielder from Rowan, and Ian Wildey, a defender from Towson, are working out with the team.

Spirit tonight

Opponent: Philadelphia Kixx

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: 7: 35

Radio: WCBM (680 AM)

Outlook: The Spirit is winless against the Kixx after three meetings. Bo Vuckovic (sprained ankle) will miss tonight's game and visits to Harrisburg tomorrow and Cleveland on Sunday. Philadelphia (8-6) trails Harrisburg (7-4) by a half-game in the East Division.

Pub Date: 12/26/97

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