EWING, N.J. -- He's been back too many times for this to be a homecoming anymore.
Now it's nothing different from any other business trip.
Gary Hindley, coach of the Maryland Bays, made yet another return to Trenton State College, which he first attended and then coached at for a decade. This time, it was just another American Professional Soccer League game for Hindley, one he didn't want any part of losing.
The Bays made Hindley's latest return venture a successful and record-setting one, holding off an aggressive charge from the outmatched Penn-Jersey Spirit for a 4-2 victory before 2,442 at steamy Lions Stadium. Maryland is 12-1 in the league heading into this afternoon's game in Albany, N.Y.
More important, the Bays narrowed the point gap between them and the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks to 105-98 in the battle for the top spot in the Western Conference. Maryland has played three fewer games than San Francisco.
"It's always nice to come back, but I've been here so many times that's it's nothing that big," said Hindley, who was a three-sport athlete at Trenton State and still runs a soccer camp at the school. "I was only thinking maximum points [which he got by the victory and the four goals]."
Maryland led by 1-0 at the half before the game turned into a second-half shootout. The Spirit rallied twice to tie the score, but the Bays showed why they are the APSL's top offensive team by scoring three times in the second half.
The night became record-setting on the game-winner, which was scored by Jean Harbor (two goals, one assist) with under 20 minutes to go. Kevin Sloan assisted on that one, which gave him a league record of at least one point in nine straight games. Sloan added the finishing touches with a goal in the final three minutes.
"We looked like a team that knew it had back-to-back games," Hindley said. "We sat back a little at times. I think we saw that there are no such things as walkovers. Every team is capable of beating you in the this league."