Tropics come up big in KC, despite being short

by Brian Ackley

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. –  The Florida Tropics SC came up very big Friday night, despite being short more often then they would have liked.

The Major Arena Soccer League team used two short-handed goals in the fourth quarter – and the franchise's first ever hat trick – to stun the two-time defending Central division champion Kansas City Comets, 8-7, before a crowd of 4,302 at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. The win snapped the Tropics four-game losing streak in their sixth road game in nine starts so far this season.

The start was similar to the beginning of the Tropics game Dec. 17 against KC when the Comets jumped to a 3-0 lead. Friday, the hosts led 2-0 in the first quarter, but Florida trailed just 3-2 at intermission, getting goals from Ricardo Diegues, his team leading eighth, and Victor Parreiras with just 34 seconds to play in the second quarter.

Diegues got his second of the night on a pretty re-start feed from Freddy Moojen at the 3:25 mark of the third quarter to tie it at 3-3, and he completed his hat trick just over three minutes later when he made KC netminder Stephan Paterson pay for wandering too far off his line to give Florida a short-lived 4-3 lead.

Kansas City tied it with a power-play goal from their leading scorer, Leo Gibson, less than two minutes later, but Moojen slammed a left-footed bomb from deep in the left corner with 65 seconds to go in the third to put Florida back on top 5-4.

Rapha Nascimento helped to create a two-on-one chance and upped the visitor's edge to 6-4 with a short-handed goal 2:22 into the final period, and Anthony Arico added his own short-handed goal exactly 90 seconds later -- Florida's first man down goals of the season –  to make it 7-4. Arico hustled out of the penalty box and again forced Paterson into a giveaway which Arico then buried. Florida was whistled for a team-record six penalties in the game. Nascimento added his second at the 9:29 mark of the fourth to close the Tropics scoring. They were his second and third goals of the season.

Florida netminder Piotr Sliwa picked up the win, as Kansas City outshot the Tropics 36-23. Sliwa was credited with 17 saves.

Now 3-6 this year, the Tropics will close out the first half of their 20-game regular season Saturday at Cedar Rapids who leads the Central at 7-2, before returning to the Lakeland Center for the start of a seven-game home stand Jan. 6 when they host the Dallas Sidekicks.