Joe Mallia will become the first goalie other than Cris Vaccaro to start a National Professional Soccer League playoff game for the Spirit when the club entertains the Philadelphia Kixx in the first round at 7: 35 p.m. tomorrow at Baltimore Arena.
Vaccaro, who has been in goal for 740 of the Spirit's 787 playoff minutes, all against the Harrisburg Heat, the past four seasons, is recovering from a pulled hamstring and is questionable for the best-of-three series.
"Joe is playing well and has more playoff experience than Jimmy," player-coach Mike Stankovic said, referring to rookie Jim McCombs. "Cris has just started training again this week."
Mallia, in his third season with the Spirit, has not appeared in the playoffs since 1993, when his 3-2 record with Harrisburg included two wins over the Spirit.
The only player declared out for the first round is Mike Henning, a former Towson High star who has a sprained ankle.
"I've been making great progress," Henning said. "If we're fortunate enough to advance to the second round, I'll be ready to play."
Pub Date: 4/04/97