Spirit gets its shots but can't connect in 10-9 loss 15-minute scoring drought, Kixx's Pappas negate 47-23 shooting advantage

December 27, 1997|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

A 15-minute scoring drought at a most inopportune time, with the team holding a lead and the fourth period just under way, doomed the Spirit against the Philadelphia Kixx at the Baltimore Arena last night, 10-9.

Ahead 7-4 mainly because of a strong defensive effort which limited free-wheeling Philadelphia to six shots on goal in the middle two periods, the Spirit couldn't beg, borrow or steal a goal despite constant pressure on the Kixx goal.

The home team outshot the Philadelphia by a better than 2-1 margin, 47-23, but couldn't put the ball past Kixx goalie Pete Pappas when it counted most.

"It was our best game by far," said Spirit coach Mike Stankovic, who had a couple of assists. "It was a case of a goalie being too good. Pappas beat us. When he wasn't making great saves, we were hitting him with shots."

A goal by John Molomo at the end of the third period, a shootout one-pointer by Kevin Sloan and a power-play goal by Matt Knowles within the first 33 seconds of the final quarter got Philadelphia into the lead, 8-7.

"This game is all about momentum," said Philadelphia coach Dave MacWilliams, who spent considerable time in Baltimore as a player and coach. "We were flat, I thought, and the Spirit was playing us real well when Molomo got a big goal for us.

"That seemed to change things. Next came a power play and we converted on a shootout, then the power play. And, not too long after that, we made good on a restart. That's four quick conversions."

Don D'Ambra's third goal of the night gave Philadelphia breathing room after the midpoint of the quarter, and it appeared as if the scoring were done for the evening.

But the Spirit closed to within 10-9, when Stankovic set up Shane Dougherty in close for a restart two-pointer. This forced the Kixx to defend furiously over the last minute of action as the Spirit put a couple of strong shots on goal, only to be thwarted.

"We changed some things, and the moves worked well," said Stankovic. "The guys know if we keep playing like that, we're going to win some games."

And it will be none too soon. The Spirit is 3-12 and facing a couple of games on the road, where it is winless.

The Spirit had several chances to take control in the first half, but between hitting the goal posts and otherwise misfiring and the goalkeeping of Pappas, the teams hit intermission square at 2-2.

D'Ambra, who had hat tricks in four of his previous six games, gave the Kixx the lead midway through the first period with his 22nd goal.

Sasa Zoric tied it for Baltimore in the second quarter while Pappas was preoccupied by Lance Johnson setting a screen.

NOTE: The Spirit signed Derrick Marcano (Cardinal Gibbons, TTC Essex Community College and Towson State), a veteran of three NPSL seasons, including 1994-95 with the Spirit, on Christmas Day. Marcano, a defender, scored 39 points in 23 games for Tampa last season.

Spirit tonight

Opponent: Harrisburg Heat

Site: State Farm Show Arena, Harrisburg, Pa.

Time: 7: 35

Radio: WCBM (680 AM)

Outlook: The Spirit is still seeking its first road victory after seven setbacks. The team lost in Harrisburg a month ago, 14-11. The Heat (7-4) fell to second place in the division last night by percentage points as a result of the Spirit's losing to Philadelphia (9-6).

Pub Date: 12/27/97

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