Warren Westcoat fired yet another booming punt at Steve Powers, the Maryland Bays' goalkeeper for whom he recently has become the understudy.

Normally, Charles Arndt would have been standing where Westcoat was -- but he was released on June 14. His replacement, a Severna Park graduate, was practicing on the Howard Community College field in Columbia Tuesday evening.

"This is really nice. I'm coming into a good situation -- this team is winning and everyone is having fun," said the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Westcoat. "But I'm not expecting much to change, though."

Not as far as playing a starting role with the Bays, that is.

The defending American Professional Soccer League champions are currently 8-0 with Powers in the goal. Powers, who is slightly taller than Westcoat, ranks second in the league with a .70 goals against average and haswon 15 straight games dating back to June 30 of last year.

"Everyone knew Steve was No. 1. Warren knows he might get a start once in awhile -- like maybe in two weeks when we play back-to-back games against Colorado (July 5) and San Francisco (July 6)," said Bays coach Gary Hindley. "His thoughts are focused, and I think he'll do well when he gets his chance. But he'll get some training to make him better,first."

Off the field, however, the signing should change Westcoat's life tremendously, adding more road trips to an already nomadic existence. Westcoat drives all over the East Coast to the soccer campsthat are helping him earn his summer living.

He was on the sidelines for the Bays' 2-1 victory over Colombia's Millonario's and made the road trip to Salt Lake City for the Bays' 4-1 victory over the Sting. The Bays will play host to the Colorado Foxes at Washington's RFKstadium Sunday.

"This was a pleasant surprise," said the 23-year-old. "I was just going to work camps along the East Coast for the whole summer."

In fact, shortly after practice Tuesday night he was motoring his way up I-83 to Hershey, Pa., where he was helping a friend with a soccer camp.

"Things are pretty hectic right now," said Westcoat. "I've got to be up tomorrow morning at 8, so I'll just go straight home and go to bed."

It's been a long road, getting to the Bays.

After skipping his senior year at Lock Haven University to sign with the Washington Diplomats for the 1989-1990 outdoor season, Westcoat switched to indoor soccer with the Hershey Impact of the Major Soccer League, where he played until this past April.

With each of his previous teams, he played behind Scoop Stanisic, a highly regarded goalie who is now with the APSL's Albany, N.Y., Capitals.

"I was close to home, but I wasn't at home in Hershey or Washington," said Westcoat. "I was born in Maryland, so this is home."

Westcoat'salma mater, Severna Park, is just 40 minutes from Columbia. During his senior year, he recorded six shutouts and allowed just eight goalsto lead the Falcons to a 9-4-1 record. His efforts earned him the Anne Arundel County Sun's Soccer Player of the Year award, and he remains the only county goalie ever to receive that honor.

Also chosen to the Anne Arundel County Sun's All-Decade soccer team, Westcoat's defensive brilliance followed him to Lock Haven University, where he led the Bald Eagles to the NCAA Division II playoffs in each of the three years he played.

He finished his college career with a 0.73 goals-against average, made 4.2 saves per game and recorded 31 shutouts. As a sophomore, Westcoat was the league's Most Valuable Player. During his senior season he had a .67 goals-against average with 12 shutouts and anchored the Bald Eagles to a 14-5-2 record.

Hindley calls the Tuesday practices "the day for getting fit."

For the second half of this session, a 100-yard football field was divided for the first of three 20-minute miniscrimmages.

Westcoat took his place inone goal, Powers in the other. It's only practice, but the players take it seriously, right down to the shirt-grabbing, stiff-arming and elbowing of teammates.

Before long, the players are attacking the goal. Joe Barger sends a shot past Powers in the other goal, as does a teammate.

Chris Reif catches Westcoat out of position on the right, but sends his shot wide left. Westcoat emerges from his stance inthe goal and deflects a low, on-goal volley out of harms way. Another goal is scored on Powers.

The next charge at Westcoat, this timeby Brian Haynes, is more dangerous. But Westcoat dives head-first toswipe the ball away from Haynes' feet, and the thwarted offender turns away, swearing in frustration.

With about a minute left in the scrimmage, Reif sends a hard, 15-foot blast hurtling toward Westcoat,who uses yet another sliding kick to chip it over the end line.

Westcoat kept his adversaries scoreless for the first game, but allowed two goals in each of the second and third games. The first -- a six-yarder -- comes from Reif, who is in perfect position for a chest pass from Jean Harbor.

"You should have seen that coming and warned the defenders, Warren," yelled Hindley.

The coach then turned to abystander and remarked, "He's got to learn to call the outside game."

Westcoat said he'll learn to use his time in the goal more wisely.

"I'm just sitting back and learning, trying to feel everything out," said Westcoat. "The better we play, the more fun we're having. And these guys love the game here. I'm glad to be a part of this organization. It's full of good people from top to bottom."

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