Wave leaves Spirit behind, 8-6


MILWAUKEE -- The Baltimore Spirit's high-powered offense met its match last night.

The Milwaukee Wave held Baltimore to its second-lowest point total of the season in a 8-6 victory here at Bradley Center.

The loss dropped the Spirit's record to 20-6 in the American Division of the National Professional Soccer League. Milwaukee, in the National Division, improved to 15-11.

The Spirit pulled to within 8-6 at 9 minutes, 6 seconds of the fourth quarter when Goran Hunjak centered a ball toward Dan O'Keefe in front of the Wave's goal.

O'Keefe reacted with a diving header that Wave goalkeeper Victor Nogueira had no chance of saving.

The Spirit had forward Paul Wright in as the sixth-attacker with 3:03 left, but were unable to generate any scoring.

The Spirit's previous low was in a 14-2 loss at Buffalo on Jan. 2.

"We didn't hit the target as well as we normally do," Spirit coach Kenny Cooper said. "We didn't put our chances away, and it comes back to haunt you.

"I think some of our players had their shots affected by Nogueira's presence," Cooper said. "We needed to just strike the ball, and we didn't."

Baltimore started the scoring on a goal from explosive forward Wright. Mike Stankovic knocked a ball off of the boards into the Wave end, and Wright kicked a sliding, half-volley past Nogueira to give the Spirit a 2-0 lead at 6:27 of the first quarter.

Wright, a free agent who played with the Wave last season, gave the Spirit a 4-0 lead at 1:68 in the second quarter when Milwaukee's Eloy Salgado gave the ball away at midfield. Wright beat Nogueira on the one-on-one counterattack.

The Wave narrowed Baltimore's lead to 4-2. Dan Donigan passed to Chad Ashton, who beat Spirit goalkeeper Cris Vaccaro four minutes into the second quarter.

Milwaukee took the lead with two goals within a minute in the second quarter. Milwaukee tied the score at 4, at 7:12 when Michael King, a free agent who played with Baltimore last season, got behind the Spirit defense. Ashton got the ball to King, who beat Vaccaro with a high shot.

Just 51 seconds later, Wave midfielder Rene Ortiz blasted a left-footed shot that deflected off defender Jason Dieter and past Vaccaro, giving the Wave a 6-4 lead. The score remained 6-4 at halftime.

"You know coming in that cheap goals are going to hurt you, and we gave up a couple of cheap goals in the second quarter," Cooper said. "In a game like this with teams that play hard, aggressive defense, you've got to really be on your toes. We go to the all-star break 20-6 with 14 games left, so we're still in good position."

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