The Baltimore Bays have a new owner, Ed Hale, and a new marquee player, Jason Dieter, but one thing remains intact -- the streak.
The Bays have won 33 straight indoor games, and if that number reaches 34, they will have captured their third consecutive United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues' I League champ- ionship.
Standing in the way are the Tulsa Roughnecks, who will meet the Bays in tonight's 8 o'clock title game at Du Burns Arena in Canton.
The Bays (10-0) have defeated the Roughnecks (10-3) twice this season, 8-5 and 15-6, but the Baltimore players know that that won't mean a thing once the ball is put in play.
"In a one-game series, anything can happen," said Dieter, who came to the Bays from the Spirit in an early-season swap in which Denison Cabral joined Baltimore's NPSL team. "We're confident, but we're not cocky. Tulsa is a good team, and we know that we have to bear down and play the game the way we're capable of playing."
Dieter, the first player ever signed by the Spirit, had nine goals and six assists in seven games with the Bays. Billy Ronson, a longtime member of the defunct Baltimore Blast, leads the team in scoring with 11 goals and 26 assists, and his 50 points puts him in a tie for first in the league scoring with Ken Defini of the Omaha Flames.
The Roughnecks, who were swept by the Bays in last year's best-of-three championship series, are led by Virgil Stevens (16 goals, eight assists) and Tama Aondofar, last year's league Rookie of the Year.
In addition to Ronson, the league's two-time MVP, and Dieter, the Bays have a number of players with a knack for finding the net. Eric McClellan is the team's second-leading point-getter with eight goals and eight assists, and defensive stalwart Joe Barger and veteran Danny Santoro have contributed 21 and 19 points, respectively.
The defense, which has helped the Bays outscore opponents 118-40, is the team's most improved unit, according to coach Kevin Healey, and is headed by Joe Koziol, Troy Snyder, Mark Mettrick and Steve Boardman.
Goaltenders Dave Tenney and Jan DeWeer have combined for 131 saves.
"Prior to this year, every time we played Tulsa, it was usually a one-goal game and a lot of times it was decided in overtime, and we have to be prepared for that type of battle," said Healey, who has been named the USISL Coach of the Year the past two seasons.
"Our players have a tremendous amount of pride in the Bays organization and its supporters, and their will to win goes a long ++ way."
Pub Date: 3/08/98