Tropics will head to MASL playoffs as regular-season champs after 7-5 win over Tacoma Stars
ONTARIO, California -- For the first time in their five-year history, the Florida Tropics are heading to the Major Arena Soccer League playoffs.
And they will do so as the league’s regular season champions.
Riding a three-goal performance from forward VcMor Eligwe, the Tropics clinched a first-place finish with a 7-5 win over the Tacoma Stars in a game held Thursday night at the Toyota Arena in Ontario, California.
With the win, Florida finishes the regular season with a final record of 10-3, a winning percentage of .769. The best second-place Ontario Fury can finish is 7-3, or a .700 winning percentage. Because of the ongoing pandemic, teams are not able to play the same number of games this season, so standings and playoff seedings are determined by winning percentage.
The Tropics will be the only team in the league to get a first round playoff bye. The three first-round winners will join the regular-season champion Tropics in Kansas City, where the semi-final round will be held.
In the semi-finals, Florida will get the benefit of selecting its opponent and play Game 1 on Thursday, April 1 with the two remaining teams playing the same day. Both series will play Game 2 on Saturday, April 3 with a mini game played if needed to break a series tie.
The MASL Ron Newman Cup Finals will take place in two possible locations during the weekend following the semi-finals and will be best of two games with a third, mini game following game two if necessary.
Should two west coast teams make the finals, any combination of Ontario, San Diego and Tacoma, they will take place at Toyota Arena in Ontario, California. If any team other than two west coast teams reach the finals, they will be held at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Missouri.
League officials did note, however, that every round and game of the playoff format is subject to change due to COVID complications or where the commissioner finds any changes necessary in the best interest of the League.
Florida got off to another quick start Thursday when Ian Bennett forced a turnover and scored less than a minute into the first half. The two sides then traded goals back and forth – Florida getting markers from Antonio Manfut and Eligwe – to leave things level at intermission, 3-3.
Florida got the only two goals of the third, and the first two goals of the final 15 minutes, to build an insurmountable 7-3 lead. Eligwe, on loan from the Mesquite Outlaws, netted two more, while Bennett and Ricardo Carvalho also found the back of the net, to help secure the win.
Hugo Silva picked up his league-leading 10th win in goal as Florida outshot the Stars – who got a five point night (two goals and three assists) from player-coach Nick Perrera – by a margin of 29-24.
The league’s regular season comes to a conclusion March 20. All seven teams participating in play this season will qualify for the post-season. The Tropics did not qualify for the MASL post-season in their first three years, but went 18-3 in the 2019-20 season and would have qualified for the playoffs. However, they were canceled because of the pandemic, and Florida was declared the Eastern Conference champions.
For more information about the post season when the final seedings are finalized, visit fltropics.com or maslsoccer.com