Spirit puts on home face, 12-6 Vuckovic's hat trick, Castillo's 4-point night carry host over Heat

January 17, 1998|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Too bad the Spirit can't pack up the Baltimore Arena and take it on the road.

Still saddled with the worst record in the NPSL (5-16) after its 12-6 victory over the Harrisburg Heat last night, the club continues to put on its best showings at home, all of its wins having been registered here.

Bo Vuckovic and Mirko Castillo were the big guns for the Spirit last night, Vuckovic recording his fifth hat trick of the season and Castillo contributing a pair of two-pointers.

Just as important was the work of Khalil Azmi in goal. After a pedestrian start in which two of Harrisburg's first four shots found the net, the Moroccan was nearly impregnable.

In the fourth quarter alone, the Heat, trying to affect one of its patented comebacks, put 17 shots on the Spirit goal, requiring Azmi to make 14 saves.

Vuckovic finished off his hat trick in the late going with a two-point penalty kick. Making his feat of five three-goal games even more impressive is the fact that he missed six games during December with a sprained ankle.

"Our defense was excellent tonight," Vuckovic said, "and that set rTC up most of our chances on offense. Castillo had a lot of chances."

"I'll say," Castillo said. "If I'm in shape, I get five goals."

"At least," said coach Mike Stankovic, who sat himself out as a player. "We maybe should have won, 42-6." He kidded Castillo about not being in tiptop shape.

"I was home doing nothing," Castillo said. "I played the World Cup indoor championships in Mexico City, then went home to Houston for six weeks. I wasn't expecting a call, but Mike called."

Mark Manganello and Mark Pulisic got the visitors off to a 4-0 start in the first nine minutes, with Pulisic stripping Azmi of the ball 50 feet from the goal and breezing in for the easiest goal imaginable.

The next several minutes belonged to the Spirit, with Castillo and Chris Scotti tying the game by the end of the first quarter, and Vuckovic giving the home team a 6-4 lead just 41 seconds into the second session.

Defense became the order of the day for both teams until just 20 seconds before halftime when Bill Becher came in alone on the Spirit goal, drew Azmi out and nudged the ball past him to make it 6-6.

(NPSL standings, 8C)

Spirit today

Opponent: Kansas City Attack

Site: Kemper Arena, Kansas City, Mo.

Time: 2: 05 p.m.

Radio: WCBM (680 AM) (tape delay at 7: 35 p.m.)

Outlook: The Spirit is still looking for its first road victory after going 0-10 as the visiting team over the first half of the season. It won't be easy in Kansas City, where the Attack is 7-2 at home after an 11-3 embarrassment of Harrisburg last Saturday. The Attack has the lowest scoring average in the NPSL (10.9 per game), but just four teams have allowed fewer points.

Pub Date: 1/17/98

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