The Maryland Bays have a perfect record in the American Professional Soccer League this season. Two of their defenders, Chris Reif and George Gelnovatch, also have perfect records -- playing every minute of the eight games.
Those two records have much to do with each other.
Gelnovatch, a stopper, and Reif, a sweeper, have done an "excellent job as far as stabilizing the defense," Bays coach Gary Hindley said. "It's more [important] for a central player to be on the field as much as possible."
As they have for all 735 minutes thus far this season, Gelnovatch and Reif will be on the field for tonight's game against the Colorado Foxes at RFK Stadium.
"Our goal is to keep the bagel, the shutout," Gelnovatch said.
Which is what the Bays defense did for three consecutive games this season (May 25, June 1 and June 8), as they shut out or "bageled" Tampa Bay (twice) and Miami.
The two, along with goalkeeper Steve Powers, have helped the Bays rank second in the APSL in defense, with six goals allowed on the season.
Reif said his position as a sweeper is similar to that of a free safety in football. He tells the other team members which players to mark and usually will play the ball instead of the player.
Reif said he is not surprised that he has played every minute this season.
"In my position, they never sub the person," he said. Since each team is allowed only two substitutions per game, Reif said, the substitutes usually will go in for the midfielders.
But playing the whole game does not bother Reif, who said he probably does the least amount of running next to the goalkeeper. "I really don't get tired," he said.
Gelnovatch said: "I take it for granted that I'll be out there 90 minutes. It's a given."
Gelnovatch was a first team all-star last season, when he played for the Penn-Jersey Spirit. Reif was a second-team all-star with the Bays last season.
In addition to the efforts of Reif and Gelnovatch, Hindley said, the Bays' basically injury-free season is a part of the team's success. "To go on any type of streak [the Bays have won 16 APSL games in a row overall], that's got to be one of the external factors to go your way," he said.
Other Bays players who haven't missed a game this season are forward Jean Harbor, who leads the league in scoring with eight goals and four assists and also has played every minute; forward Brian Haynes; and midfielders Omid Namazi and Kevin Sloan. However, Sloan, who has a six-game point-scoring streak, will miss tonight's game because he received his fourth caution of the season against Salt Lake on June 22.
Opponent: Colorado Foxes (4-3)
Site: RFK Stadium, Washington, 6:05
Outlook: Maryland (8-0) is going for an APSL single-season record of 9 straight wins. Tonight's game begins a 4-game series against Western Division opponents (at Colorado, at San Francisco, Salt Lake City). Bays G Steve Powers is third in the league in goals-against average with 0.70. Three Bays are among the APSL's top 4 scorers (F Jean Harbor, M Kevin Sloan, F Brian Haynes) and have combined for 40 points.