Spirit's 4th-period rush tames Wave, 17-14


This was a typical Spirit-Milwaukee Wave game in every respect.

Games matching these two are supposed to be close. The teams' previous five meetings were decided by three points or less, including two in overtime.

And they are supposed to be Baltimore victories. The Spirit won four of those five, losing only last February in Milwaukee, 8-6.

Sure enough, in their first meeting of the season, when Milwaukee coach Keith Tozer was looking for his 200th National Professional Soccer League victory, the Spirit (8-4) last night came from six points behind in the fourth quarter to earn a 17-14 victory before 4,774 fans at the Baltimore Arena.

The Spirit had nine points in the final 4:58.

"Just call us the cardiac kids," said Kevin Sloan.

Employing a sixth attacker after falling behind, the Spirit scored the game's final four goals -- by Tim Wittman, Barry Stitz (three-pointer), rookie Chris Morgan and Wittman again. Morgan's goal with 35 seconds left, on an assist from Sloan, was the game-winner.

"Sloanie had the ball and I went to the far post, hoping it would come to me," Morgan said.

"He shot, the goalie made the save and the ball was bouncing around. I followed Sloanie's shot up, and it was pretty easy, with a lot of goal to shoot at."

The win ended the Spirit's losing streak at two. "Hopefully, we'll roll off this," said Stitz. "If we had lost, it would have been a long week."

The win offset the hat trick of Michael King. That's the Michael King who spent the first part of the 1992-93 season with the Spirit before suffering a knee injury.

Milwaukee surged into the lead after Jon Parry tied the score at 8 seven minutes into the third quarter.

King then scored his second and third goals and Michael Richardson scored one, all within 3:37, for a 14-8 lead.

The Spirit jumped to a 4-0 first-quarter advantage on goals by Derrick Marcano and Kevin Sloan, the club's leading scorer who was playing despite a sprained toe suffered last Saturday in Harrisburg.

Shut out in the second quarter, the Spirit watched as Milwaukee erupted for eight points, including three-point goals by King and Richardson, for an 8-6 halftime edge.

King scored his when Baltimore goalie Cris Vaccaro ventured too far out of the net, allowing King to kick the ball gently into the goal from three-point range. The goal gave King a Milwaukee-high 26 points.

Omid Namazi, signed this week, made his Spirit debut after only two days of practice. Although a seven-year pro, Namazi has negligible indoor experience -- two weeks and a few games with the Hershey Impact in 1990.

"I'm still learning the ins and outs of the indoor game, but actually I'm pretty comfortable with it already," Namazi said.

Coach Dave MacWilliams threw Namazi into the fray, using him on a regular shift and as a member of the power-play unit.

"He hasn't made a full transition, but with his experience and great touch on the ball, he'll help us out," MacWilliams said.

"He'll do a nice job for this team."

NOTES: Vaccaro was making his fifth start after missing seven games with a pulled hamstring and sprained wrist.

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