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Spirit blanks Rowdies

The Tampa Bay Rowdies goal-scoring woes may have reached an all-time low Saturday night. For the third straight game the Rowdies came away scoreless, suffering a 2-0 American Pro Soccer League loss to the Penn-Jersey Spirit at Trenton State College's Lions Stadium.

"Again, we couldn't put the ball in the net," said Rowdies coach Steve Wegerle. "With the amount of possession we had, we should have scored. We just kept missing the target."

Spirit goalie Cris Vaccaro had something to do with that, coming up with a dozen saves as he recorded his second straight home shutout. The Rowdies, who fell to 1-5, played the last 14 minutes of the game with at least a one-man advantage. They played the last five minutes with a two-man advantage after two Spirit players were red-carded.

"We had chances, we just couldn't put them away," Wegerle said. "But that's the name of the game. You have to take advantage of your opportunities."

Penn-Jersey (4-4) made the most of the few scoring chances it got. With nine minutes remaining in the first half, Paul Duffy chipped a 20-yard free kick over a wall of Rowdies defenders to the left corner. Tampa Bay goalie Winston DuBose got a hand on the ball but only could push it off the inside netting.

Fifteen minutes into the second half, Penn-Jersey spread the field as Rich Maher dribbled wide and left a ball for Dan Donigan. Donigan sent a cross to the far post that Pat O'Kelly pushed past DuBose from inside the 6-yard box.

"He (Vaccaro) made one or two good saves," said Wegerle, "but we're not putting our chances away."

The absence of U.S. national team players Peter Vermes and Steve Trittschuh, who are in New Haven, Conn., to play Juventus of Italy today, didn't help the Rowdies' goal-scoring problems.

"Did we miss them?" Wegerle said. "Right now, we need anyone to put the ball in the net. We created so many good chances, but just can't score. It's the same problem, but it was more so tonight."

It was the second straight year the Rowdies have been blanked here. They were routed by Penn-Jersey last June, 5-0. The loss left Tampa Bay with an 0-3 record on the road, while the Spirit is 3-1 at home.