Wittman's four goals lead Spirit to 23-15 win


CANTON, Ohio -- Tim Wittman scored four goals and added two assists to lead the Baltimore Spirit to a 23-15 victory over the Canton Invaders in a National Professional Soccer League game before 1,948 last night at Canton Memorial Civic Center.

The Spirit, which improved to 24-11, outscored Canton 10-3 in the second quarter to tie the game at 11 at halftime.

A two-point goal by Ali Kazemaini, a shootout goal by Kia and a power-play goal by Gino DiFlorio early in the third quarter gave the Invaders a 15-11 lead.

"We came out and tried to play too much soccer," said Spirit coach Kenny Cooper. "We decided to not play soccer, but play pinball. We hit the boards and crashed the boards. That turned the game around."

Baltimore scored the next six goals to take the lead for good.

"We just felt like we had to fight fire with fire," said Cooper. "If you sit back in the smallest building in the league, they [the Invaders] will come out and pick you apart."

Steve Boardman's goal at 6:23 in the third quarter cut the Invaders' lead to 15-13. Boardman took possession of a clearing pass by Kia and knocked home a long shot ahead of the arc.

Rusty Troy tied the game at 15 at 7:21 with a goal from the right corner. Wittman then gave Baltimore its first lead at 17-15 with a goal at 8:26 after he rebounded his own missed shot that was wide left.

The Invaders led 8-1 at the end of the first quarter and increased their lead to 9-1 45 seconds into the second quarter when Denzil Antonio scored a power-play goal from the right side after taking a pass from Bobby DiNunzio.

That's when Baltimore started to make its comeback.

Wittman had three goals and an assist in the second quarter. He tapped in Troy's shot off the boards at 6:17 of the quarter to cut Canton's lead to 9-3.

The Invaders increased their lead to 11-3 at 8:19 in the second quarter when Franco Paonessa tapped in a shot near the crease.

But Baltimore's Kevin Smith scored off a Wittman assist 10 seconds later to slice Canton's lead to 11-5. That goal led an 8-0 run by the Spirit.

Wittman scored back-to-back goals within a 57-second span to close the gap to 11-9. Eric Dade then tied the game at 11 with a goal from the left side at 13:43 in the second quarter after taking a pass from Boardman.

Goalkeeper Brian Hartlove, starting in only his third game, registered his third victory of the season.

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