Four-goal first paves way for Tropics 9-3 win over Harrisburg; Milwaukee visits next Sunday

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Four first-quarter goals was exactly what Florida Tropics head coach Clay Roberts was looking for Sunday, and those helped pave the way to a 9-3 win over the Harrisburg Heat in a Major Arena Soccer League game at the RP Funding Center.

The win was a birthday present for their head coach. Roberts celebrated his 41st birthday Sunday with his 80th career win.  He has been the only coach the Tropics have had in their seven year history.

"We wanted to get off to a good start today and not have to chase, so that first quarter was as good a quarter as we've had in a while," Roberts said. "The offense was clicking, Chris was sharp in goal. We've had a touch stretch of games and travel, so now we get to exhale a little, rest, regroup, and look forward to a big matchup next weekend against Milwaukee."

With Sunday's win, the Tropics improved to 6-2-1, good for 19 points, six better than Milwaukee, who has played four less games. They will make up one of those games in hand Friday when they host the Monterey Flash before coming to Lakeland for a 3:05 kickoff on Jan. 15. Milwaukee is 4-0-1, good for 13 points. Teams get three points for a regulation win, two points for an overtime win, one point for an overtime loss, and no points for a regulation loss.

Sunday's win was the second in 48 hours over Harrisburg as the Tropics took down the Heat 6-4 at the RP Funding Center Friday. Florida has now beaten the Heat (1-4) n 11 straight matchups. 

It was also the second straight win for goalkeeper Chris Frederick, starting in just his second ever MASL game. Frederick was called upon to make much biggest stops Sunday than he was on Friday, despite the fact the Tropics outshot the visitors 37-28. Frederick was credited with 11 saves.

Vini Dantas reached a career milestone, scoring his 199th and 200 career goals. Ricardo Carvalho had his second straight two goal game and two assists. Zach Reget scored two, extending his consecutive games goal scoring streak to nine, and also added an assist.

The Tropics got additional goals from Skylar Funk, Drew Ruggles and Rafa Alves. Harrisburg's goals came from David Mellor, Alejandro Chavez and Malcom Harris.  

Tickets for all home games are available starting at just $7 per game by calling the arena box office at 863-834-8111. Although tickets are also available online at, service fees are significantly higher through Ticketmaster as opposed to calling the box office directly. Tickets are also available on game day at the box office.