Tropics go 4-1 on five-game road trip with 8-5 win over St. Louis Ambush

by Brian Ackley

ST CHARLES, Missouri  – The Florida Tropics longest road trip of the Major Arena Soccer League season – five games – came to a close Sunday with a 9-5 win over the St. Louis Ambush, giving the Tropics four wins in that stretch.

 For the first time in all five games, the Tropics actually played from the lead for the first time after conceding the first goal against Harrisburg, first two against Milwaukee and Dallas and first three against Baltimore during the road swing. The only loss was in a shootout in Dallas to start the trip, and Florida came into Sunday’s afternoon game following a 9-8 win Saturday night against Milwaukee.

Junior Alencar got his second goal in as many games and Ricardo Diegues got the only two goals of the first quarter. The pair were obtained in a Jan. 31 trade with Utica City FC. Former Ambush player Zach Reget got the only goal of the second quarter to leave Florida up 3-0 at intermission.

St. Louis came out the better team in the second half, and cut the lead to 3-2. At 4-2, following Reget’s second of the game, goalkeeper Rainer Hauss made the play of the game stopping St. Louis forward Mohammed Ndiaye on a penalty kick. Ndiaye came into the game as the fourth leading scorer in the MASL.

Second after the ensuing power-play was killed off, Drew Ruggles scored to make it 5-2. St. Louis got as close as one on two different occasions after that, but never did find the equalizer.

 “I think we were pretty beat up from yesterday, it was a quick turnaround,” noted Reget. “Sometimes we get in our own zones, but when we play collectively, it’s really hard to beat us. We’re just trying to find a consistency so that when March is over and the playoffs start we’re ready to roll. We’d love to have a home playoff game since we haven’t had one yet.”

Ricardo Diegues had two goals and an assist, while Florida also got goals from Chad Vandegriffe and Victor Parreiras and a second from Alencar. 

Hauss picked up his first ever win in his first ever start ini goal for the Tropics, facing 33 shots. 

 Florida remains in first place in the Eastern Division with a  14-1-1 record, good for 41 points, 12 more than the second place Baltimore Blast who have played two more games than the Tropics. Those two teams also have two games left against each other this regular season, March 20 and April 3, both at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland. Teams get three points for a win, two for an overtime win, one for an overtime loss and no points for a loss in regulation time. 

The Tropics will return to the RP Funding Center in Lakeland next weekend for their first home game since January when they host the Tacoma Stars is a special “Star Wars” themed game that includes Star Wars Tropics jerseys that will be auctioned off after the contest. Kickoff is at 3:05 p.m. 

The “Tropics Blitz” allows for free general admission tickets  as a way of providing a great evening of family entertainment for parents and kids who have had their activities curtailed because of the ongoing pandemic.

Vehicles with two or more persons will pay $20 to park, and then be able to take their parking receipt to the RP Funding Center box office for the same number of free tickets to that day’s game as occupants in the vehicle. Single occupant vehicles will pay just $10 for parking.