NEWARK, Calif. -- It had the effect of a sucker punch -- unexpected, powerful and, said the Maryland Bays' Jean Harbor, heartbreaking.
It was the blow yesterday that began the end of the Bays' league-record 18-game winning streak.
It was a goal by the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks' Jeff Baicher with 10 seconds remaining in the first half. That gave the %J Blackhawks a 1-0 halftime lead and was the impetus for their 3-1 victory over the Bays, the defending American Professional Soccer League champions.
"That goal broke our hearts," said Harbor, the APSL's leading scorer, who failed to get a goal yesterday but attracted some controversy. "Our plan was to hold them even in the first half and then get after them in the second half. But that goal threw our game plan all out of whack."
Bays coach Gary Hindley agreed: "For us, that was a terrible time to give up a goal. It was a real letdown, and it meant that we had to take some chances in the second half in order to catch up."
But nothing worked for Maryland (11-1, 89 points), which fell to second place behind San Francisco in the Western Division with the loss.
Instead, the Blackhawks (12-2, 94 points) counterattacked twice early in the second half for goals that gave them a 3-0 lead. Both came from substitute forward Chance Fry, who had entered the game midway through the first half when Paul Holocher was injured.
The first came at 53 minutes, 7 seconds. After San Francisco Bay broke up a Maryland corner kick, Fry made a 50-yard run before putting in a left-footed shot from 12 yards out. At 58:44, he broke the Bays' hearts again with an open 10-yarder after a fine pass from Townsend Qin.
"They were very aggressive on offense, and they marked Jean and Phillip [Gyau] as well as anyone ever has," Hindley said. "Their strategy wasn't unique; it was just 'pick your man up at the San Jose airport and stay with him until he gets back on the plane.' "
The Bays, whose record streaks of 12 road victories and 11 season-opening wins were halted, managed to find a silver lining.
"When it was 2-0 or 3-0, we could have just said, 'OK, that's it,' and really gotten embarrassed," Gyau said. "But we didn't."
Hindley added: "I didn't know how we'd react when we got behind, since it hasn't happened much. But we kept our attitudes up and our heads in the game."
Maryland scored at 67:33 when Kevin Sloan took a pass from Harbor and put in a six-yarder that deflected off the left post. That was all the scoring but not all the excitement.
With 15 minutes remaining, Harbor leaped in pursuit of a Maryland corner kick with Blackhawks goalkeeper Mark Daugherty. Daugherty came down on his head and was knocked out for a short time. Blackhawks coach Laurie Calloway went onto the field, angered that no foul had been called on Harbor and that the officials had given Maryland a corner kick.
Calloway was ejected for abusive language; both Harbor and Daugherty remained on the field. Harbor and Gyau contended that Calloway uttered a racial slur at Harbor; Calloway denied it.
"Harbor and the linesman told me to get off the field, and I told them to get lost -- with a couple of bleeps," Calloway said.
Whatever transpired, the Bays don't figure to forget the incident or the defeat when the teams play at RFK Stadium in Washington on Aug. 10.
As Hindley said: "We were short on goals today, but we're not short on memory."