BOSTON, SEPT. 23 -- Finally, it was Steve Powers's turn.

He had been the Maryland Bays' reserve goalkeeper for two seasons. When he finally got his shot this year, the attention turned to his high-scoring teammates.

Powers didn't mind. He knew his chance would come. And on a cold and rainy night on the banks of the Charles River, the University of Maryland graduate helped the Bays become the best professional outdoor soccer team in the country.

His diving save in the fifth round of a penalty kick tiebreaker late Saturday sealed the Bays' 2-1 victory over the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks in the American Professional Soccer League championship match at Boston University's Nickerson Field.

What began six months ago with late afternoon practices at Howard Community College in Columbia, Md., will end Wednesday in Burnaby, British Columbia, with a match against the Canadian Soccer League champion Vancouver 86ers.

After a 1-1 tie through regulation and a remarkable, 15-minute overtime in which both teams nearly scored, the pressure was on Powers and his counterpart from the Blackhawks, Mark Dougherty, in the tiebreaker.

"I had heard a few things about them and I knew they like to hit it low to {the goalie's} right," Powers said. "Going into it, I knew deep down I'd get one."

Each team scored on three of its first four 12-yard attempts. Then in the fifth round, John Abe scored for the Bays. San Francisco's Steve Petuskey directed his shot toward the lower left corner. Anticipating the direction, Powers guessed correctly and smothered the low shot.

"I had deflected some of the other shots so I knew I was guessing right," he said. "It was just a matter of stopping one."

It was the first penalty kick tiebreaker Powers had been involved in since last season against the New Jersey Eagles in Patterson, N.J. On the third kick, Powers landed hard on the artificial turf and dislocated his shoulder.

Not only did he make the game-winning stop, he was solid in the previous 105 minutes, stopping the dangerous Blackhawks attack which generated 24 shots on goal.

The only goal he allowed was on a magnificent shot by former Howard University all-American Peter Isaacs that tied it at 1-1 in the 84th minute. Bays reserve Scott Cook had scored nine minutes earlier.

Maryland forward Phillip Gyau, who was neutralized most of the night by defender Troy Dayak, had a chance to win it in sudden death, but his breakaway shot was tipped wide by Dougherty.

"This says a lot about American soccer today," Bays Coach Pete Caringi said. "We beat some great teams to get here. Hopefully in the future, the way to go is to get the best local players. We gave the American players a chance to play and they showed what they can do."

Thirteen of the Bays' 18 players attended Maryland high schools and 16 of 18 played for U.S. colleges.

Although he has accumulated large operating deficits the last three years, Bays owner John Liparini said there is a 70 percent chance the Bays will return to Cedar Lane Park in Columbia next season.

And that expensive trip to Vancouver Tuesday? Not to worry. The Canadians are picking up the tab.