The Spirit's Bobby Joe Esposito should know how a team can beat Kansas City Attack goalie Warren Westcoat.
He played in K.C. with the former Severna Park High standout for two seasons.
"You have to catch him on an off night," Esposito said. "When he's on, he's really on."
The Spirit didn't have the good fortune of catching Westcoat on an off night. He was really on.
Kansas City built a 10-2 halftime lead and coasted to a 16-4 victory over the Spirit last night before 3,770 at the Baltimore Arena.
It was the Attack's fifth straight win, raising its record to 6-2, and left the Spirit at 4-5, the latest in its five seasons in the National Professional Soccer League that it has been under .500.
"That was pretty much an embarrassing performance," said Spirit player-coach Mike Stankovic. "I hope there aren't that many more of them."
Westcoat, who entered the game as the league's sixth-ranked goalie on the basis of his 10.97 points-against average, had 23 saves.
"He's a great stopper," said Jason Dieter, who scored both Baltimore goals. "We had plenty of shots , but he kept them in the game. And we gave up too many goals. We're just not clicking on all four cylinders."
As he stood in the emptying Arena talking to friends, Westcoat remembered that he regularly attended Blast games here as a youngster. Last night's game will go into his memory bank.
"I was seeing the ball well, getting a good view of it, and the defense was great in front of me," Westcoat said. "The defense made their shots almost predictable. We haven't played any better this season. We were all on the same page."
To make matters worse for the Spirit, it lost Stankovic to a strained knee ligament late in the first quarter. The Spirit now has five players out with knee injuries -- Branko Segota, Mike Henning, Ronnie Simmons, Lance Johnson and Stankovic. It is uncertain whether Stankovic will miss anymore time.
It was the Attack's seventh straight win over Baltimore, dating to March 18, 1994. The Spirit won the first three meetings, but ever since it's been all Attack, which leads the series, 7-3.
Seven different Attack players scored, including Goran Hunjak, a former member of the Spirit who had a three-point goal on a dandy header and two assists.
Dieter scored the first of his goals in the opening quarter, when fellow Archbishop Curley High grad Barry Stitz fed him, and the second in the third period on an assist from Bo Vuckovic.
The Attack came to town with only one certified goalie, Westcoat. Partly to keep travel expenses down, the team left backup Mike Potier in Kansas City.
If Westcoat had gotten hurt, coach Jim Schwab would have called on Wes Wade, whose goalkeeping experience is limited primarily to sixth attacker when the regular goalie is pulled late in a game in an attempt to provide more offense.
"He stops everything," Stankovic said. "But Kansas City is a great team. Remember, they lost in the championship finals [to the Cleveland Crunch] last season. We just have to move on."
Veteran defender Doug Neely was uncharacteristically grim after the defeat.
"We've got to work on a lot of things," he said.
NOTES: Kansas City's leading scorer, Brian Loftin, is playing despite three broken toes incurred in a win over the Wichita Wings Nov. 9. Hunjak, the Spirit's leading scorer in 1992-93 and the Attack's No. 3 scorer now, returned last week from Spain, where he played for the U.S. indoor team in the World Indoor Championships. The U.S., a pre-tournament favorite, was eliminated early; the event runs through next Sunday.
Pub Date: 12/01/96