Spirit remains stuck in deep road rut, 15-8 Ambush rookie keeps team winless away from home

January 19, 1998|By Keith Schildroth | Keith Schildroth,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ST. LOUIS -- This seemed like it might be the night for the Spirit.

The Spirit appeared to have a good shot at its first road win of the season against the best team in the National Professional Soccer League last night when St. Louis player-coach Daryl Doran chose to start rookie goaltender Jesse Haddix in place of All-Star Jamie Swanner, who had played in each of the Ambush's previous 20 games.

But Haddix, who was signed to a 15-day contract last Friday, frustrated the Spirit early and often, leading the Ambush (17-4) to a 15-8 victory at the Kiel Center.

"I thought Baltimore had some great chances, but Haddix made a bunch of great saves," said Doran after his team dropped the Spirit's overall record to 5-18 -- 0-12 on the road. "I know they are struggling this year but they still have some firepower."

The Spirit tested Haddix numerous times, but the goalie shut out the Spirit in the first half.

In fact, it wasn't until 6: 46 into the third quarter that the Spirit finally solved Haddix, beating the St. Louis netminder on Mike Stankovic's goal, coming off a pretty feed from Chris Scotti.

"I was really nervous before the game," said Haddix. "Once I made a few saves in the first quarter, I settled down a little. I was still nervous though, even in the fourth quarter."

St. Louis covered up for Haddix, making 20 blocks, a high number for the Ambush.

"I think we made a very conscious effort to block more shots tonight," said the Ambush's Joe Reiniger. "I think that helped Jessie and we needed that."

Steve Kuntz had three goals and six points to lead the Ambush. The St. Louis offense was productive this weekend, winning three games in three days for the first time in club history.

The Ambush was without Mark Moser and former Spirit standout Franklin McIntosh, who were with the U.S. national team playing in an indoor tournament in Brazil.

The Ambush led 8-0 at halftime, with all eight points coming in the opening quarter.

The Spirit came alive in the second quarter but failed to score. Haddix robbed Barry Stitz from the right side and stopped Stankovic off a free kick and Lance Johnson from the top of the box late in the quarter.

Spirit schedule

Jan.: 23 -- at Harrisburg, 7: 35; 24 -- Philadelphia, 7: 35; 30 -- Cleveland, 7: 35.

Feb.: 1 -- at Edmonton, 8: 05; 8 -- at Detroit, 3: 05; 13 -- Harrisburg, 7: 35; 15 -- Cleveland, 5: 05; 20 -- Wichita, 7: 35; 21 -- Harrisburg, 7: 35; 27 -- Montreal, 7: 35; 28 -- at Milwaukee, 8: 35.

March: 7 -- at Cleveland, 7: 05; 8 -- at Milwaukee, 2: 05; 15 -- at Montreal, 4: 05; 22 -- at Cleveland, 3: 05; 27 -- Philadelphia, 7: 35; 28 -- Kansas City, 7: 35.

(All times are Eastern Standard Time)

Pub Date: 1/19/98

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