Tomorrow, the Maryland Bays can relax and have fun.
Tonight, there's work to do.
The Bays conclude the regular season with two games in Florida this weekend. There's psychological ground to be gained in Fort Lauderdale tonight (7:35), while tomorrow's (8:05 p.m.) game at lowly Miami is a classic getaway affair in which coach Gary Hindley figures to give his reserves playing time.
The Bays have already clinched the home-field advantage for the defense of their American Professional Soccer League championship. As Western Conference champions, the Bays begin their two-game semifinal playoff series against the Albany Capitals Sept. 6, with Game Two being played at Cedar Lane Park in Columbia Sept. 14. The other series matches the San Francisco Blackhawks and Fort Lauderdale Strikers, the Eastern Conference champs.
Before the Bays (17-2) were insulted by San Francisco this season, they were denigrated by Fort Lauderdale in 1990. A year ago, the Strikers showed the Bays no respect, and Maryland hasn't forgotten.
"Every time we play Fort Lauderdale, our guys are going to be up," Bays goalie Steve Powers said. "They said some things about us last year they shouldn't have."
Hindley isn't concerned about what happened yesterday. He said tonight's game is crucial for other reasons.
"You have the two conference champions going against each other," Hindley said. "We want to set the tone for the playoffs. We don't want to lose the edge we've had all year."
As promised, first-year coach Hindley has improved Powers' goals-allowed average, but the Bays have actually piled up goals faster than last season's record-setting pace. With 17 goals and 10 assists, Jean Harbor has already set an APSL record for points in a season, and midfielder Kevin Sloan's 13 goals and four assists represent the league's second-best total.
When the Bays open the playoffs Sept. 6 at Albany, their lineup could include national team members Bruce Murray and Desmond Armstrong. The national team began a four-game European tour last weekend in Moscow, departing the U.S.S.R. just before the coup attempt there. The tour concludes Sept. 4 in Turkey.
Tickets for the Bays Sept. 14 (7:05 p.m.) playoff game against Albany are $10. Call 880-0047 for more information.
AT FORT LAUDERDALE
* WHEN: Tonight, 7:35.
AT MIAMI FREEDOM
* WHEN: Tomorrow, 8:05.
* OUTLOOK: The Bays (17-2) close out the American Professional Soccer League regular season on the road. They face a stiff test tonight against American Conference champion Fort Lauderdale (15-4), which has gotten 10 goals and three assists from Derek Sanderson, the APSL Player of the Week. Tomorrow night, the Bays invade the Orange Bowl for a game against Miami (6-14), which is trying to get out of the American Conference basement. The Bays, champions of the Western Conference, have scored a league-leading 51 goals and allowed 22, a figure bettered only by Fort Lauderdale and San Francisco.