The Spirit's Clark Brisson hasn't acted at all like a reserve this weekend.
Before a Baltimore Arena crowd of 10,457, the largest in Spirit history, Brisson had two goals and an assist for the second straight game in a 19-8 victory over the St. Louis Ambush last night. The crowd sent Spirit attendance over 100,000.
Brisson, a former All-America at South Carolina, scored goals in the second and third quarters, one on a power play, and assisted on a Goran Hunjak goal for a total of four points. In Friday night's win over the Wichita Wings, Brisson had five points on two goals and an assist.
After Friday's game, coach Kenny Cooper told Brisson he would get more playing time. Brisson had seen limited action since rookie Rob Ukrop returned from a broken jaw. Ukrop had a flurry of goals, but has cooled.
"You've got to give deserving people a chance," Cooper said. "It seems like every time Clark comes in, he scores."
In the clash of NPSL division leaders, the Spirit (22-6) pulled away from St. Louis (18-12) in the third quarter, taking a 13-6 lead. Hunjak, Mike Stankovic and Paul Wright matched Brisson with two goals apiece. Rusty Troy had four assists.
The victory raised the Spirit's home record to 16-1 and its all-time record against the Ambush to 4-0. The Spirit has won eight straight at the Arena.
The previous largest Spirit crowd was 10,385 last February for a Cleveland Crunch game. The last sellout (12,300) here for indoor soccer was March 24, 1990 when the Blast defeated Tacoma, 6-0.
After a scoreless first quarter, Stankovic, Barry Stitz and Brisson gave the Spirit a 5-0 lead midway through the second period.
Former U.S. national team player Ted Eck, in his seventh game with the Ambush, kicked in a two-pointer, but Hunjak and Wright raised Baltimore's lead to 9-2 with 1:36 left in the half. Eck's second goal trimmed the lead to 9-4.
The game was the second in a three-in-three-nights stretch for both teams. The Ambush visits the Harrisburg Heat tonight while the Spirit travels to the Dayton Dynamo, which is last in the NPSL's American Division.
Despite Dayton's low standing, Cooper says the Spirit can't afford to approach the game casually.
"They're still fighting for the fourth spot in the playoffs, which means we could wind up playing them in the first round," he said.
NOTES: Wright, the Spirit scoring leader, is closing in on some team records, most set last year by Hunjak. Hunjak had 53 goals, 46 assists, 141 points and seven power-play goals. With 12 games remaining, Wright is within reach of all four records. He already holds club single-season marks for one-point goals and shootout goals and is tied with Hunjak for most goals (five) in one game.
St. Louis 0 4 2 2 -- 8
Baltimore 0 9 4 6 -- 19