Kiel Williams second career hat trick leads Tropics over Harrisburg 6-5

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla. – The Florida Tropics started off their final Major Arena Soccer League road trip of the regular season in fine fashion Friday night as they defeated the Harrisburg Heat, 6-5.

It was the first of four straight on the road before the regular season finale at home on Sunday, April 3 against the Baltimore Blast. The Tropics will then move on to their second straight post-season when the MASL playoffs unfold in April.

Florida scored three goals in the space of just over two minutes late in the first half which turned out to be the difference. Ricardo Carvalho scored at 10:17 of the second, followed by goals from Ricardo Diegues (11:13) and Kiel Williams (12:15) giving Florida a 5-2 lead at intermission.’

Williams, who notched his second career hat trick, got the game winner with 6:25 to play in the fourth. Diegues opened the scoring for Florida with the only goal of the first quarter. Dominic Francis led Harrisburg with two goals and two assists.

 The Tropics would have qualified for their first ever post-season in 2019-20 when they were 18-3, and declared Eastern Conference champions, when the last three regular season games and all the playoffs were canceled because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Last year, the Tropics won the MASL’s regular season championship, but fell in the first round in two neutral site games against the eventual champion San Diego Sockers. That means Florida will host its first ever home playoff game next month. Each series in the MASL post-season is a home-and-home, with the 15-minute mini game played at the conclusion of game two if the two teams split the first two contests. 

The MASL postseason schedule has not yet been finalized, either dates or teams,. The win in Harrisburg means Florida (17-2-1, 52 points) will have no worse than the No. 2 seed heading into the final week of the season, and still has a chance for the No. 1 seed if they can catch the San Diego Sockers, who have 54 points are planning games Saturday in Baltimore and Sunday in Harrisburg.  By being one of the top two seeds, the Tropics would have home field advantage for the first two-rounds of the playoffs, which are a home-and-home series. If the two teams split those games, a 15-minute mini-game immediately follows the conclusion of game two.

Florida will move on Sunday (March 27) in Utica, Wednesday (March 30) in Ontario, Thursday (March 31) in San Diego.

All remaining games will be streamed live on the Twitch app, which recently became the exclusive provider of MASL games online. Games will no longer appear on the MASL YouTube channel.