Bays final to carry 'made in U.S.' label

September 21, 1990|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Evening Sun Staff

It could be the beginning of another American Revolution i Boston.

At least it will be a revelation when the Maryland Bays and the San Francisco Blackhawks hook up in the American Professional Soccer League championship game, 8 p.m. tomorrow at Boston University's Nickerson Field.

While soccer is nearly always looked upon as being best played by Europeans, in this game it will be distinctly American. Both the Bays and Blackhawks feature U.S. players, and they are expected to put on a decidedly upbeat, fast-paced outdoor soccer game.

The game can be heard live on WCBM (680 AM).

"We might lose," said Bays owner John Liparini. "But we're going to have fun doing it. We're going to run, score and challenge the Blackhawks to play their best."

The Bays are unique. Their roster is made up of 18 players: 16 of them are U.S. citizens, 10 of the 11 starters are U.S. citizens and 13 of the 18 players are Marylanders.

"It's all-American and it's mostly Maryland," said coach Pete Caringi. "We're like the model franchise for soccer in the United States. We haven't had to look farther than our own state to find great talent."

"When we started this season, other teams looked at our roster and thought we might be a light touch," said Bays leading scorer Phillip Gyau, who played his high school soccer for Gwynn Park in Brandywine and his college ball for Howard University. "But evidently we weren't. We've won 15 games. We're still playing and they're not."

But it wasn't just other teams who thought the Bays might be less than awesome. Even Liparini had his doubts.

"We were 9-11 last year, we had a lot of dissension, we had injuries and no team chemistry," said Liparini. "Last year was so dismal, I never expected anything like this. But Pete came on board, we added a few key players and just look at us now."

Yes, just look at them.

Gyau has scored 11 goals and handed out six assists, and his job has been made easier by the addition of Jean Harbor (nine goals, eight assists) and winger John Abe (Northern High, Essex Community College), who couldn't do anything right a year ago, but can do nothing wrong this season, as he has keyed breakaway after breakaway.

"Most of us on this team have known each other for six or seven years," said Abe, who at 28 is the oldest member of the team. "It's exciting for all of us to have come together on this team. Americans can play good soccer if they're given the opportunity."

Midfielder Rob Ryerson and defenders Joe Barger and DarryGee have proven to be impact players. Literally every player on the roster has contributed to the Bays' success.

"I hope we're ready for this game tomorrow," said Caringi, who coached a number of his current players when they were students at Essex CC. "We've been off since winning our championship [Aug. 25], while San Francisco just wrapped up theirs last week. I feel if we can play like we did at the end of the season, we'll have a very good chance."

All either team knows of the other is what the statistics tell them. The Bays set an ASL scoring record this season with 42 goals, giving up 29. The Blackhawks, who have three national team players on the squad, tied for most goals in the WSL with 35 and gave up 28.

The Boston Bolts asked to host this game and assistant general manager Alex von Lichtenberg said they are still glad they got it.

"We've had a lot more calls than usual about tickets," he said. "But we're obviously not the NFL. It is hard to imagine the sports fans in Boston getting overly excited about a game between the Maryland Bays and the San Francisco Blackhawks. Still, we're expecting a pretty good crowd -- if the weather holds."

Yesterday afternoon, many people involved with this game had their ears pressed to their radios listening to weather reports. Last night, the outlook was iffy at best. At worst, several stations were calling for a northeaster to blow through tomorrow night.

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