Expectations diminish as Bays seek turnaround

June 18, 1994|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Sun Staff Writer

It was supposed to be a different story the second time around for the Baltimore Bays.

The defensive problems they experienced in their inaugural U.S. Interregional Soccer League outdoor season last year were patched up with the additions of veteran Steve Nichols and former Loyola College standout Bill Harte.

They were coming off an exceptional indoor season over the winter that saw them go unbeaten during the regular season.

Coach Kevin Healey said expectations were high going into their second outdoor season. But a handful of one-goal losses, numerous nagging injuries and some inconsistent play have the Bays a disappointing 2-9 and searching for a way to turn things around.

"We've had games where we've played well defensively and not scored. Other times, we'd score some goals and give some up," Healey said earlier this week.

"We need to do the things needed to win instead of trying to avoid losing. It's a confidence thing where you're in position to win games but playing cautious to keep from losing."

Healey said he believes the remedy is to take the second half of the season one game at a time.

"We're at a critical point right now and I believe this team has stayed focused," Healey said. "We're looking to go out and win them one game a time to get through this.

"If we can get a couple of wins and build some confidence, we'll start doing the things needed to win games," Healey said.

The return of veteran defender Joe Barger should be a big lift. Out with a knee injury for the first half of the season, Barger is a steady influence in back and provides strong leadership.

But Barger's was only one of the team's injury problems.

Last year's leading scorer, Tarik Walker, has been hampered all season with a hamstring injury. He has missed three games and has played hurt the rest of the time, scoring only two goals.

Joe Layfield scored the game-winner in a 3-2 victory at Hampton Roads on May 30 and has been hurting since then with a groin injury.

"The injuries have not helped. With Barger, Tarik and Layfield hurting, that hits our defense, midfield and attack -- everywhere," Healey said.

"We're fighting through our injury problems. The fans are going to come out [tonight against Charlotte] and we're going to play hard and put on a good show. We're still looking to make the playoffs."

BAYS TONIGHT

Opponent: Charlotte Eagles

Site: UMBC Stadium

Time: 7:30

Outlook: The Bays (2-9) suffered their worst loss of the season, a 5-0 setback, at Charlotte on June 10. The Eagles entered the weekend with a 7-3 record and are in second place in the U.S. Interregional Soccer League's Atlantic Division. Veteran defender Joe Barger, out for the first half of the season with a knee injury, will make his first home appearance. Before the game, the Baltimore Lady Bays will make their home debut against the Columbia Chargers under-19 state championship team. Game time is 5 p.m. and one ticket is good for both games. The Lady Bays opened their inaugural exhibition season last week with a 3-1 road win over the North Jersey Imperials.

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