Spirit starts fast, fades in loss to Heat, 18-12 Team fails to hold 11-2 lead

road record drops to 0-8

December 28, 1997|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Coming off its best performance of the season on Friday, the Spirit charged out to a commanding lead last night only to see it disappear into another road loss to the Harrisburg Heat, 18-12.

The Spirit, which fell to 0-8 on the road, didn't get blown out as the final score suggests.

The Spirit was leading, 12-10, four minutes into the final quarter after Sasa Zoric (five goals) hit a shootout one-pointer in the third period. And it was still a tie game at 12 with just over five minutes remaining when Jim Hesch hit his second goal of the night.

The Spirit had some opportunities to get back into a tie, but Harrisburg increased its defensive intensity and controlled the last three minutes, ending the game with an 8-0 run. "I told our guys going in to forget Baltimore's record; they'd come out playing hard," said Heat coach Jim Polihan. "But you can only say so much.

"We were positively pitiful in the first quarter, pitiful. But then we put three good periods together. We've been a good fourth-quarter team, but you don't want to rely on that as your modus operandi."

Spirit player-coach Mike Stankovic rued his team's inability to put the Heat away.

"It's the same old story," he said. "We had our chances and didn't finish them. If you don't capitalize on your chances, sooner or later it's going to get you in indoor soccer.

"It was a bad stretch when we were playing a man short in the second period that really hurt us. [Harrisburg] got a goal, but more important it seemed to change the tempo of the game."

The game turned ugly when Heat goalkeeper Doug Petras threw the ball the length of the field and into the goal as the Spirit pressed with a sixth attacker. Richard Chinapoo then scored the final goal with just 14 seconds remaining.

The Spirit jumped off to an 11-2 lead in the first 15 minutes, only to have the Heat counter with an eight-point barrage of its own in the second period. The game then transformed into a defensive struggle in the third quarter.

After Harrisburg scored the last four goals of the second period to close to within 11-10, Stankovic replaced goalie Jim McCombs with Khalil Azmi and the Moroccan answered by holding the Heat scoreless in the third quarter.

The Spirit defense helped Azmi by holding the Heat to three shots in the third and one of those attempts was blocked by a defender.

As was the case in the first period, when the Spirit put 11 shots on the Heat goal, it stepped up the pressure with a similar number of shots. But the only point of the period was delivered by Zoric on a shootout one-pointer.

Zoric converted to complete his first hat trick by first hitting the boards with his first effort only to have the ball rebound back on his kicking foot to score.

The Spirit matched its point total in Friday night's 10-9 loss to Philadelphia in less than seven minutes.

Lance Johnson picked off a sloppy clear by goalkeeper Doug Petras inside the first minute, headed for the middle of the field and belted his second three-pointer past Petras.

In little more than two minutes after Harrisburg made the score 3-2, Shane Dougherty, Renato Sampaio and Zoric all hit two-pointers and it was 9-2 after just 6: 43 of play.

Spirit .. 11 0 1 0 -- 12

Harrisburg 2 8 0 8 -- 18

Spirit today

Opponent: Cleveland Crunch

Site: Cleveland State University Convocation Center

Time: 3: 05 p.m.

Radio: WCBM (680 AM)

Outlook: The usually potent Crunch (two NPSL titles and 138-62 over five seasons) are only 5-10 to this point after being devastated by injuries. The team has been off for more than a week and has a majority of its veteran cast back while the Spirit will be playing its third game in a 44-hour period. Cleveland once again features the dynamic duo of Hector Marinaro and Zoran Karic, who combined for 184 goals in 40 games last season.

Pub Date: 12/28/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.