Tropics miss early opportunities and fall to Harrisburg Heat

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Florida Tropics SC will get two more chances to take on the Harrisburg Heat later this month, and that's a good thing, since Saturday night's meeting between the two teams was pretty forgettable for the hosts.

Harrisburg got a short handed goal by Dominic Francis just 34 seconds before the end of the first half to break a 1-1 tie, helping the Heat to a 6-2 win. Harrisburg and Florida entered the game both with 6-8 records, behind Baltimore who improved to 10-5 on the season Saturday with a win against Milwaukee. Syracuse, who did not play Saturday night, also is 6-8 in the four-team eastern division. The top two teams in the division earn post-season berths.

The win moves Harrisburg into second place in the division, while Syracuse now sits in third, and Florida falls to fourth place with a 6-9 mark. The Tropics have five regular season games remaining, all against either Harrisburg or Syracuse.

Florida only managed goals from Marco Rodriguez in the second quarter and J.P. Reyes in the third, despite taking 31 shots at Heat neminder Hugo De Silva who repeatedly came up big in the first 30 minutes.

Harrisburg scored three times in the third, with goals from Thiago Freitas, Brad Kerstetter and Fernando Gatica, to take a 5-2 lead into the final 15 minutes.Tom Mellor scored the only goal of the fourth, when the Tropics were playing with a sixth attacker. Lucio Gonzaga opened the scoring for the visitors in the first period.

The Tropics will host Syracuse in a double-header next weekend, the final two regular season home games for Florida. Saturday night's game, Feb. 11, kicks off at 7:05 p.m. while Sunday's affair will begin at 5:35.

After being off the following weekend, Florida will finish the regular season with three games in three days, starting with contests Feb. 24 and 25 in Harrisburg, and the regular-season finale Sunday afternoon, Feb. 26, in Syracuse. Tickets for next weekend's games are available at All Florida games are also broadcast live at