Spirit regroups, spikes Drillers Zoric's goal caps 8-0 spurt in 4th, lifts squad, 15-13

January 10, 1998|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

If ever a team looked overmatched in a first half, it was the Spirit last night at Baltimore Arena.

Conversely, if ever a team looked overmatched in a second half, it was the Edmonton Drillers at the same locale.

The end result before 5,071 was a stirring comeback from an eight-point deficit to a 15-13 victory by the Spirit.

The team's fourth win -- all at home -- in 19 games resulted when Sasa Zoric converted a restart feed from player/coach Mike Stankovic from the top of the arc to complete the Spirit's 8-0 run through the final quarter.

"We had no choice. We had to stop them from working the ball around like the did in the first half," Stankovic said of his team's drastic change in style at halftime.

Besides being down by eight points at intermission, the Spirit seemed to be hurting with the return of recently injured Bo Vuckovic and Barry Stitz and a couple of double-session practices earlier in the week.

"But we had to match their energy and intensity and we did that by switching things up a bit," Stankovic said.

For openers, Vuckovic moved out of the midfield to cut down the running on his tender ankle and helped down deep in the offensive zone as the setup man.

"I was tired at the half and nowhere near 100 percent after not training much the last month," Vuckovic said. "[Stankovic] had me post up and I was able to keep my defender off the ball. On four of the fouls they called on defenders against me, we got three goals on restarts -- mine, Stitz's and Sasa's [game-winner].

"We didn't know what to expect from Edmonton and, as far as I'm concerned, they were probably the third-best team behind Milwaukee and St. Louis. Once we lifted our game and intensity, though, we were able to match them."

When the coach ordered all-out pressure, "that's when we began to see them falling back as soon as they lost possession," said Stankovic.

The Spirit shook free from Edmonton's close checking early in the third period and, on a goal by Alek Milenovic and Ron Simmons' third three-pointer of the season, closed to within 10-7.

A pair of penalties put them in trouble late, and the Drillers gained breathing room, 13-7, with a two-point penalty kick and a one-pointer on a power play.

NOTES: The NPSL, in need of a feeder system for its 13 teams, has agreed to a working affiliation with a new organization, the Soccer Leagues of America. The SLA will begin operation this fall and, according to its president, Richard Chemesky, "We're looking to develop pro minor league indoor soccer in cities and arenas throughout North America."

Edmonton 2 8 3 0 -- 13

Spirit.. 0 2 5 8 -- 15

Spirit tonight

Opponent: Cleveland Crunch

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: 7: 35

Radio: WCBM (680 AM)

Outlook: Superstar Hector Marinaro leads Cleveland (8-11) and the NPSL in scoring with 109 points. The Crunch, which lost in Philadelphia last night, 17-15, ended a four-game losing streak with a 13-12 win over the Spirit in Cleveland two weeks ago.

Pub Date: 1/10/98

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