Diegues hat trick leads Florida Tropics past Harrisburg, 5-4

by Brian Ackley

HARRISBURG,  Pa. – Ricardo Diegues scored three goals, the the Florida Tropics SC survived two fourth-quarter Harrisburg power plays, to defeat the Heat 5-4 Saturday night in a Major Arena Soccer League game in Harrisburg.

Florida held a 3-1 lead at intermission after Diegues scored his team-leading 16th and 17th goals of the season, with one each in the first and second quarters. Raphael Schlemper notched his seventh of the season with 36 seconds to go before intermission.

Florida stretched the lead to 5-2 midway through the third as Diegues compelted his hat trick and captain Freddy Moojen scored a pretty back-heel goal. But the Heat countered with two of their own, including the second of the night by Elmo Neto, to cut it to 5-4.

Harrisburg had two power play chances, including a four-on-three power play, and a power play with 25 seconds to go but could not convert on either as Florida improved to 8-6 on the season. Piotr Sliwa picked up the win in goal, his seventh of the year. Harrisburg falls to 5-11.

The Tropics will be right back at it Sunday afternoon when they meet the Syracuse Silver Knights at the Oncenter War Memorial Arena in Syracuse. Kickoff is at 4:05 p.m. Florida comes into the game one-half game up on Syracuse for second place in the MASL eastern division. The game will be broadcast live at www.masl.tv.