Spirit beats Heat in exhibition Brisson's 4 points pace 12-7 victory ZTC SOCCER


The Spirit and the Harrisburg Heat picked up where they left off.

It was the Heat that ended the Spirit's 1992-93 season abruptly last April with two decisive wins in the first round of the National Professional Soccer League playoffs.

And it was the Heat that spiced the Spirit's preseason training grind last night with an exhibition appearance at the Baltimore Arena.

Clark Brisson, who sat out last season after spending the previous year with the NPSL's Canton Invaders, led the Spirit to a 12-7 victory with four points on a pair of two-point goals before a crowd of 3,105. Mark Pulisic scored four points for Harrisburg.

Coach Kenny Cooper took a good look at his new players, using all who were available except Pat Walsh. Goalie Shawn Boehmcke, a rookie out of Loyola College, played the second half, allowed only two points and had six saves after Cris Vaccaro and Brian Hartlove shared the first.

"Boehmcke was outstanding," Cooper said. "He learns quickly, and it looks like he's already adjusted to the indoor game."

Cooper liked the Spirit's defensive effort but said the team's "fitness isn't there yet" and the passing wasn't sharp.

"We still have a long way to go," Cooper said. "You don't want to get carried away" with one early win.

Tim Wittman gave the Spirit a 2-0 lead 2:44 into the game, and Brisson made it 4-0 a few minutes later. Harrisburg drew within 4-3 on goals by Doug Miller and Gary Ross.

Two-point goals by Rusty Troy and Tarik Walker gave the Spirit an 8-3 bulge, but Pulisic's goal made it 8-5 at halftime.

The Spirit's principal newcomer, scoring specialist Paul Wright, was introduced before the game but did not play. He is hampered by a hamstring injury suffered a few weeks ago with the Los Angeles Salsa of the outdoor American Professional Soccer League.

Wright was the APSL's No. 2 scorer with 33 points on 13 goals and seven assists. He is expected to begin practicing next week.

Two other Spirit players missed the game. Rookie Rob Ukrop was in Nashville, Tenn., for a college friend's wedding, and second-year man Eric Dade talked to Cooper yesterday en route from Dallas to his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. Dade, playing for the Dallas Sidekicks of the Continental Indoor Soccer League, scored the winning goal in the championship game early this month.

"Eric has some bumps and bruises," Cooper said. "He'll be back next week."

Cooper will have to cut the roster to 16 (plus two developmental reserves) by trimming four players before the opener.

"By the middle of next week, our roster will be more or less set," Cooper said. "We didn't want to move too soon because we've had some injuries and sicknesses. We needed to look at people."

For the Spirit, the game sufficed as its lone preseason action against outside competition. Last year, the NPSL staged a preseason tournament involving all teams.

"We had a conference call on the subject and decided the tournament was too physical and intense," Cooper said. "There were some injuries, probably the result of some players who were trying out and being too aggressive. It was like an ice hockey camp."

Harrisburg 3 2 2 0 -- 7

Spirit .. .4 4 2 2 -- 12

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