Despite his team's success during last year's inaugural season in the United States Interregional Soccer League, coach Kevin Healey says his Baltimore Bays let down their fans when they lost to the Chattanooga Express, 8-6, in the first round of the playoffs.
So, to try to make it up to them, Healey and Bays owner Bill Wallace did everything they could in the off-season to strengthen their squad and rekindle the relationship between the organization and the fans who pile into Du Burns Arena in Canton.
"We felt like a part of our fans died as they filed out of Du Burns Arena the night we lost to Chattanooga, but we have to put that behind us now," said Healey, whose Bays will open their 1994-95 season on the road tomorrow against the defending indoor league champion Atlanta Magic, before returning to Du Burns on Nov. 12 for its home opener against the Reading (Pa.) Freedom.
"We did the best we could to bring the best team we could to Du Burns Arena. With the exception of [England natives] Billy Ronson and Mark Mettrick, we're sticking with the local product. We're a Baltimore team and we want to show the rest of the country that Baltimore kids know how to play the game."
Among some of the new players with local ties are goalies Brian Hartlove (Perry Hall) and Marshall Forrester (Parkville), defenders Bill Harte (Loyola College) and Scott Krosnowski (Calvert Hall), midfielder Greg Barger (Fallston) and forwards Ron Chesney (South Carroll, Western Maryland College) and Danny Santoro (Franklin).
Complementing that crop of newcomers is a highly-skilled group of veterans, including forward/midfielder Joe Layfield, a product Calvert Hall and Towson State, who had 22 goals and 10 assists during last year's 14-1 season.
Layfield should get some scoring help from Ronson, who led the league in assists last year with 34, Eric Riedelbauer (14, 12), Roberto Ascenzi (10, 3), Dave Parravano (9, 2), Eric Spalt (5, 3), and Steve Quaranta (7, 1).
Former Baltimore Blast players Mettrick and Joe Barger return on defense and will be put to the test tomorrow as they try to stop an Atlanta team that has won 37 straight games and hasn't lost at home for the past three seasons.
"If we win Saturday, great, but if we don't, it's not the end of the world," said Ronson, who begins his 23rd season of professional soccer. "We had a great season last year and then we choked against Chattanooga, big time. Hopefully, we learned from our
BAYS AT A GLANCE
Coach: Kevin Healey (second season)
Last season's record: 14-1, third-place in the United States Interregional Soccer League
Home field: Du Burns Arena
Strengths: The Bays have depth at all positions and its mixture of experienced veterans and talented newcomers should keep Baltimore in the hunt for the league title.
Weaknesses: The loss of two key forwards in Derrick Marcano and Rob Elliott to National Professional Soccer League franchises will force some of the newcomers to step up early at the target positions. Marcano, now with the Spirit, had 17 goals and 12 assists last year, and Elliott, now a member of the Harrisburg Heat, contributed 12 goals and nine assists.
Date .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Opponent
Nov. 5 .. .. .. .. .. .at Atlanta
Nov. 12 .. .. .. .. .. ...Reading
Nov. 19 .. .. .. .. .. ...Atlanta
Nov. 26 .. .. .. .. .. ...Orlando
Dec. 2 .. .. .. .. .. ...Richmond
Dec. 9 .. .. .. .. ...Connecticut
Dec. 16 .. .. .. .. .. . ..Jersey
Jan. 6 .. .. .. .. .. .at Brandon
Jan. 7 .. .. .. .. .. .at Orlando
Jan. 13 .. .. .. .. .. ...Reading
Jan. 20 .. .. .. ...Hampton Roads
Jan. 27 .. .. .. at Oklahoma City
Jan. 28 .. .. .. .. .. ..at Tulsa
Feb. 3 .. .. .. .. ...Connecticut
Feb. 10 .. .. .. .. ..Long Island
Feb. 12 .. .. .. ..at Long Island
Feb. 17 .. .. .. ...Oklahoma City
All home games, at Du Burns Arena in Canton, start at 8:05. Tickets are $6.50.