COLUMBIA -- The Maryland Bays clinched a spot in the American Professional Soccer League playoffs last night and they did it in style.
Phillip Gyau, the APSL's Player of the Year last season, unleashed two goals and assisted on another, while goalkeeper Steve Powers shut out Albany for a 5-0 victory.
"The second half of this game produced some of the best soccer we've played this season," said Bays coach Gary Hindley, whose team retains first place in the Western Division with a 15-2 record.
The five goals helped the Bays to establish an APSL record of 43 goals in one season, breaking a mark they set just last year.
"When I first got here, people said I was a defensive coach," said Hindley. "Well, look at this. I hope this puts that to rest. You can't be a defensive coach with this team."
Joining Gyau in the scoring parade was Jean Harbor (one goal, one assist), Kurt Dasbach, who scored his first goal of the season, and Kevin Sloan, the No. 2 scorer in the league.
The shutout was the fifth for Powers this season and the 10th of his career.
And the victory ties the league record for victories in one season at 15. It is a mark set last season by the Bays, San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale.
The Bays and the San Francisco Blackhawks will have a chance to better the win total Saturday at 6 p.m. at RFK Stadium in Washington, when they face off in a rematch of the game the Blackhawks won earlier this season.
But for now, Gyau, for one, simply wanted to enjoy last night's performance at Cedar Lane Park, where 2,083 turned out to enjoy the show.
"When I first got back here, my hip was only about 50 percent," said Gyau, recalling a hip injury that delayed his return to the Bays this season. "Now it is beginning to feel pretty good. The therapy is paying off."
And yet this game did not start off as a romp. Albany, which had lost to the visiting Bays Saturday, 4-3, spent 8 1/2 hours busing here, arriving just in time for the game.
"They were slowing the game down early and coach lost his head at us," said Gyau. "He said we were playing bad and he was right. We had had a good rest. We flew home from Albany. We ate at home. But we were the ones giving them space and time and it created a lot of dangerous situations in the first half.
"But when coach yelled, we responded with four goals in the second half."
"It's the first time this year that I've gotten upset with them," admitted Hindley. "We've got the kind of team that has to pressure and create our own opportunities and we've got to keep at it."
Hindley said when his team steps in front of the ball and pressures people the way it did in the second half, it plays some of the best soccer to be seen.
"Phillip is starting to come around," said Hindley. "And those two goals by Dasbach and Sloan were two for the highlight films."