BOSTON -- The only surprise of the weekend was that Maryland Bays coach Pete Caringi did not return to Baltimore a multi-millionaire. The numbers on the Massachusetts state lottery ticket he purchased before Saturday's American Professional Soccer League championship game were about the only details he did not get right.
The Bays won the title by beating San Francisco, 2-1, on penalty kicks. They were to leave today for Burnaby, British Columbia, where they will face the Canadian Soccer League champion Vancouver 86ers on Wednesday (10:30 p.m.) to decide the North American championship in the Pepsi Cup.
Saturday, it came as no surprise that it was raining buckets throughout the APSL championship match at Boston University's Nickerson Field. "Let it rain," Caringi had said before leaving for Boston.
And it should have come as no surprise that John Abe took the fifth kick in the penalty situation that decided the championship before a crowd of 4,881. "Our strategy was to have John kick fifth," Caringi said. "When we talked about it and practiced it [Friday], we said that if we got to penalties John Abe would be the fifth shooter and John would win it for us. That was in practice. We must have known something."
Bays goalkeeper Steve Powers (nine saves) was outstanding. Four penalty kicks eluded Blackhawks goalie Mark Dougherty, and Powers allowed only three.
Bays Jean Harbor, Omid Namazi and Scott Cook hit the mark in the penalty situation that was forced after the teams played to a 1-1 tie through 90 minutes of regulation and two 7 1/2 -minute sudden-death overtime periods.
Powers made a save on San Francisco's final penalty kick, a shot by Steve Petuskey, to seal the championship.
"We heard that they hit it low and to the right -- that is, a majority of their players," said Powers. "Going into it, I knew deep down I was going to get to one. I finally did."
According to Caringi -- who has added the APSL title to the NCAA championship he won as a player on the 1975 University of Baltimore squad -- Powers represents a typical Bays player. "He played three years for the Maryland Bays," Caringi said. "He sat the bench and waited his time. This year he started off the season and we won a lot of games early."
At midseason, however, the Bays acquired another standout goalkeeper, Charlie Arndt, from the Washington Diplomats.
"When Charlie came I had to pick myself up and play my best," Powers said. "Just knowing this guy was knocking on the doorstep, I think I played each game like it was the last game I was going to play."
After the game, Caringi and Powers were reluctant to think about the upcoming match in Vancouver, preferring to savor their APSL title. "I can't believe we're national champions," Powers said. "We're all stunned."