Diegues nets four goals, lifts Florida Tropics to 9-8 win over Tacoma Stars

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Ricardo Diegues tied a career high with six points to help the Florida Tropics to a wild 9-8 win over the Tacoma Stars in a  Major Arena Soccer League game at Sunday at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.

Diegues had the natural hat trick with three straight goals in the first half, and finished with four goals and two assists. Vini Dantas added two goals including the game winner at the 6:22 mark of the fourth. 

Florida;s biggest lead was 5-2, but Tacoma shocked the Tropics with three goals within a space of 51 seconds late in the second. But Anthony Arico was sent in on a breakaway on a pretty assist from Diegues – who had a sic-point game in 2018 against the Harrisburg Heat, including four goals --  to give Florida a 6-5 lead with 34 seconds left at the half. 

In all, the teams combined for 35 shots and 11 goals in the first two quarters. Nick Perera had two goals and three assists to lead the Tacoma attack.

Also scoring for the Tropics were Anthony Arico, Breno Olivera, and Lucio Gonzaga, Getting goals for Tacoma were Roman Ramierz with a pair, and Logan James, Felipe Souza, Nani Mendoza and Michael Ramos.

The teams were even in shots at 33 each. After setting a team record with 24 blocks last week in a key 5-3 win over Kansas City, Florida was credited with 14 on Sunday, led by Ben-Avir Espinal with five. Tacoma had 11 shots blocked, including four by Logan Jones. 

Before coming home to finish the regular season in late March and early April, Florida will play its next four on the road, starting with a Mar. 4 date in Milwaukee against the Wave. The Wave hold the top spot in the East, with Florida in second.