Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ambush Eyes Cleveland's Numbers Crunchers

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ambush Eyes Cleveland's Numbers Crunchers

Article excerpt

It's the Ambush vs. the Cleveland Crunch for the National Professional Soccer League championship.

But many people will see the best-of-five series, which begins tonight at The Arena, as the Ambush vs. Zoran Karic and Hector Marinaro, the NPSL's present and past most valuable players.

The Cleveland duo overshadow their teammates, even the rest of the league, when the spotlight shines on indoor soccer. They're the NPSL's marquee players.

"Zoran is the best player in the league, everything considered," Ambush player-coach Daryl Doran said. "He has the skill to come at you or play with his back to you. . . .

"And then Hector plays off Zoran. How do you stop them? There's no way to shut them out. They'll get their points. You just try to limit them."

Piling up points is their forte. They proved that this season as they made a shambles of the NPSL record book . . . for the second year in succession.

Marinaro, the 1993 league MVP, broke his league goal-scoring record with 113, an average of more than three per game.

Karic, this year's MVP, shattered league records for points (267) and assists (104). Karic averaged almost three assists a game as he broke Pato Margetic's record by 24.

"It's so amazing what they do on the field," Crunch coach Gary Hindley said.

Hindley called Marinaro's goal-scoring record "an amazing accomplishment," but he was more impressed by Karic's assists mark.

"That's like Ted Williams' .400 batting average," Hindley said. "We might never see that again."

Cleveland's number Crunchers are similar in many ways. Both are slightly built - 5 feet 9 and 155-160 pounds. Both are resident aliens - Marinaro is Canadian, and Karic is Serbian. Both are veterans of the old Major Soccer League - Marinaro with the Cleveland Force and Karic with the San Diego Sockers.

They dominate the attention of fans and opponents. Stop Karic-Marinaro and you stop the Crunch, foes like to believe. Count Ambush captain Kevin Hundelt among the believers. …

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