Tropics mount big comeback to snag key division win over Baltimore Blast, 7-6

by Brian Ackley

TOWSON, Maryland  – Baltimore scored three times in the first seven minutes of the opening quarter, but the Florida Tropics mounted a furious comeback and hung on for a 7-6 win Saturday night, picking up a key Eastern Division win in the Major Arena Soccer League.

After the slow start, Florida got goals from Lucas Montelares and Victor Parreiras to cut it to a one-goal deficit late in the first. Baltimore’s Tony Donatelli got the only goal of the second to leave the Tropics down 4-2 at half. But goals in the third quarter by Chad Vandegriffe and Ricardo Carvalho on the powerplay knotted things at 4-4.

Baltimore took it’s final lead of the night at 5-4 on a Donatelli penalty kick before a bullet from deep in the left corner in the first minute of the fourth from Ricardo Diegues tied it at 5-5.  Carvalho got his second of the game with under nine minutes to play to make it 6-5.

Nelson Santana tied it for the Blast with a power-play goal at the 10:58 mark of the fourth, but Baltimore goalkeeper William Vanzela mishandled an outlet pass in his own end, setting up Diegues for the game-winning tap in with 3:34 to play.

Diegues – who was the team leading scorer from 2016-19 – was reacquired several weeks ago in a trade with Utica City. He has scored four goals in his two games since his return. Carvalho had a four point game in adding two assists, while Victor Parerrias continued his all-star season with a goal and two assists.

Goalkeeper Bret Petricek got the win, allowing just three goals over the game’s final three and a half quarters. Florida outshot Baltimore 36-33. 

With the win, Florida remains on top of the Eastern Division with 34 points, with Baltimore in second place with 25 points. However, the Tropics have three games in hand against the Blast. Teams get three points for a regulation win, two points for a win in overtime, one point for an overtime loss and no points for a regulation loss. 

Florida will be right back on the field Sunday in Harrisburg to take on the Heat in a 5:05 p.m. EST time. The game will be broadcast live on the MASL YouTube channel.

Florida will stay on the road next weekend with a Saturday start in Milwaukee and Sunday game in St. Louis. They will return to the RP Funding Center in Lakeland on Sunday, March 13 against the Tacoma Stars. 

The “Tropics Blitz” will provide 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.