by Brian Ackley/Tropics

HARRISBURG, PA. – When the Florida Tropics reacquired Ricardo Diegues several weeks ago, they knew they were adding an important piece to an already potent offense. 

But little did they know how important an acquisition it was. 

Diegues scored with 22 seconds to play to lift the Tropics to an 8-6 win over the Harrisburg Heat Sunday afternoon, completing a weekend sweep pf Eastern Division games in the Major Arena Soccer League. Diegues got the game winner last night too in Baltimore with 3:34 to play in that 7-6 win. 

Diegues and Alencar Junior were acquired in late January via a trade with Utica City FC with whom Diegues signed a free-agent contract after the 2018-19 season. Over the first three years of the Florida franchise, he was the team’s leading goal scorer with 69. 

The Tropics trailed 1-0 and 2-1 early, but never trailed after former Heat standout Ricardo Carvalho scored to tie the game at 2-2 in the first quarter. 

But Harrisburg hung tough, and Florida was never able to build a lead larger than two goals. And the Heat actually came back to tie the game in the fourth quarter on goals 14 seconds apart before Diegues stepped in to play hero for the second time in two nights. 

Victor Parreiras capped a seven-point weekend with three goals and an assist to lead the way for the Tropics, who now have 37 points (with a record of 12-2, with one of the losses coming in overtime.) Baltimore is in second with 28 points, but has played three more games than Florida. Teams get three points for a regulation win, two for an overtime win, one for an overtime loss and zero points for a regulation loss. 

Parreiras is now second in the league in overall scoring with 37 points (20 goals, 17 assists). His 17 assists are tied for second overall in the MASL. 

Carvalho added an assist for a two-point night, and Zack Reget added a goal and an assist as well. Other Florida goals came from Lucas Montelares and Taylor Walter Bond. 

Parreiras completed his hat trick just nine-seconds after his good friend and long-time linemate Diegues got the game winner. Walter Bond was held on a breakaway attempt after stealing the ball shortly after the Heat put it in play after the Diegues goal, and Parreiras converted the awarded shootout attempt. 

Brett Petricek faced 31 shots in picking up his second win in as many games. The Tropics fired 37 shots at Heat netminder Darian McCauley. 

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. 

For more information, visit www.fltropics.com.