With one player on his honeymoon and another playing with a sore back from a backyard injury, the Baltimore Bays appeared vulnerable in last night's home opener at Du Burns Arena.
Such was not the case.
A six-goal third quarter by the Bays turned a see-saw battle into a rout as Baltimore went on to defeat the Reading Freedom, 14-5, in a United States Interregional Soccer League matchup in front of a near-sellout crowd in Canton.
"We didn't play a good game last week so we really wanted to come out and be successful tonight," said Bays coach Kevin Healey. "Reading played us tough in the first half and they showed us that they weren't going to roll over. In the second half, we started getting the ball behind them, spreading out the floor and creating better opportunities for ourselves."
Eric Riedlbauer, who hurt his back raking leaves, was expected to sit out the game, but he played and was one of nine Baltimore players to score.
Roberto Ascenzi, who leads the Bays with three goals and an assist, scored back-to-back third-quarter goals on feeds from Greg Barger to extend the Bays' lead to 8-4. Billy Ronson scored the Bays' fifth straight goal of the period on a pass from Carsten Siersback with 1:28 left in the third.
Steve Quaranta completed his hat trick with 58 seconds left, ending a fourth quarter that featured five unanswered goals by the Bays (1-1), who lost their opener to the defending league champion Atlanta Magic last week, 11-2.
Reading .. ..2 .. ..1 .. ..2 .. ..0 .. ..-- .. ..5
Baltimore ...1 .. ..2 .. ..6 .. ..5 .. ..-- .. ..14