Surging Kickers take second shot at first-place Bays

January 28, 1994|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

To put it simply, the scores have not been pretty.

The Baltimore Bays (8-0 and first in the U.S. Interregional Soccer League Northern Division) have been going through opponents with ease. In their past three games, they've outscored opponents by a combined 50-6. On the season, the Bays have scored 130 goals and given up 25.

The last time the Bays were tested in the second half of a game was on Dec. 3 -- the second game of the season -- when they were up 9-8 midway through the third quarter. That's where the Richmond Kickers come in.

The Kickers gave the Bays their only serious challenge of the season. They led 2-1 in the first quarter -- the only time the Bays have trailed this season -- and stayed close throughout before falling, 11-9.

It was the only loss of the season for the Kickers, who at 7-1 are a game behind the Bays going into tonight's rematch at Du Burns Arena.

"The increased competition is great for the team and exciting for the fans," said Bays coach Kevin Healey.

While the Bays have had an easy time of it lately, the Kickers are coming off an 8-7 win over Greensboro -- winners of the league's outdoor championship last season -- and may have an edge if the game is close in the last period.

"That's a little bit of a concern," said Healey. "[Richmond] had a big win against Greensboro and have had some tighter contests. The effort we had last week was one of our best of the season. [Hampton Roads] came in with some good players and we put together a very good effort.

"It will be interesting to see how the players react with a tighter game. We just have to stay focused."

Veterans Billy Ronson and Derrick Marcano, returning from an injury, scored three goals each in the Bays' 17-2 win over Hampton Roads. They're two reasons why Richmond coach Bobby Lennon believes a tight game won't be an advantage for his Kickers.

"I think we're confident, but I also think we're playing against a much more experienced indoor team," Lennon said.

"They have some guys who have been playing the indoor game for a long time. We've built a little bit of a rivalry with them in outdoor and indoor, and I know they won't take us lightly. Also, seeing us beat Greensboro might have raised some of their eyebrows a bit."

The Bays will be pressed to shut down forward John Dugan, who scored four times in the first matchup and is second in the league in scoring with 57 points (22 goals, 13 assists).

"We have to continue to go forward and create, but also have to be conscious of our defensive effort," Healey said. "We have to make sure Dugan is marked up, along with everyone else, and we're not letting him turn to shoot."

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