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Invaders get past Spirit, 17-16


CANTON, Ohio -- Spirit head coach Kenny Cooper says you have to steal games when you play on the road.

Defender Mark Lugris helped the Canton Invaders steal a win from the visiting Spirit last night.

Lugris' goal with five minutes left in the game lifted the Invaders to a 17-16 victory over the Spirit before 1,379 fans at Canton Memorial Civic Center.

The loss was Baltimore's first in eight games against Canton. The Spirit's six-game winning streak also came to an end.

Lugris' game-winner, off an assist from defender Doug Swanson, came 1:03 after defender Mike Stankovic scored his second goal of the game to give the Spirit a 16-15 lead.

But it was the only goal Baltimore scored in the fourth quarter. The Invaders, who outshot the Spirit 13-8 in the final 15 minutes, erased a 14-8 lead with four unanswered goals.

An unassisted power-play goal off a restart at 8:47 in the fourth quarter by forward Gino DiFlorio gave Canton a 15-14 lead.

"We had a chance to put the game away, but we didn't," said Cooper. "Then, the momentum turned on us. But I'm a little upset with myself. I should have pulled some people out because I thought we were a little dishonest as a team in the fourth quarter. We did not defend the way we should defend in that type of situation."

The loss spoiled Spirit second-year goalkeeper Brian Hartlove's first start of the season. Hartlove, who entered last night's game 2-0 lifetime in Canton, finished with 11 saves.

"Because we have built a lead [in the American Division], it's time for a younger players to come in," Cooper said. Cris [Vaccaro] is off to a great start. Overall, I thought Brian played hard. But we are not accustomed to giving up 17 points."

Stankovic, midfielder Barry Stitz and forward Paul Wright scored two goals apiece to lead Baltimore, which fell to 18-4.

Wright returned to the Spirit after he played with the outdoor Los Angeles Salsa in their game against El Salvador last Sunday.

An unassisted goal by Stitz with one second left in the second quarter cut Canton's lead to 8-6 at halftime.

Stitz's goal came 39 seconds after DiFlorio put Canton ahead 8-4 with his second goal of the first half.

Hartlove was hit hard in the first quarter.

Invaders midfielder Dick McCormick opened the scoring at 3:15 when his shot from the left corner sailed past Hartlove after he took a pass from defender Denzil Antonio near the top of the arc.

Forty-three seconds later, DiFlorio tapped in a shot near the crease after he was able to get behind Hartlove. That gave Canton a 4-0 lead.

The Invaders took a 6-0 lead at 5:18 in the first quarter when rookie defender Ben Powers scored his second goal of the season off an assist from midfielder Marcelo Carrera.

But Powers' goal helped ignite a Spirit comeback.

Baltimore defender Rusty Troy set up a goal by Dan O'Keefe at 5:47 that sliced Canton's lead to 6-2.

Wright cut the lead to 6-4 at 5:47 in the second quarter when he dribbled down the left side and scored unassisted from the top of the circle.

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