Ruggles hat trick lifts Tropics over Blast, 7-3

by Brian Ackley/Tropics

LAKELAND, FL. -- At this pace, Drew Ruggles will score 48 goals this season in the Major Arena Soccer League. 

That's not likely to happen, but there's no denying he's on one heckuva hot streak right now, getting his second hat trick in four games to lift the Florida Tropics to a 7-3 win over the Baltimore Blast Friday night at the RP Funding Center. 

Ruggles had a hat trick in the Tropics season-opening win, also against the Blast, in Baltimore on Dec. 10 as Florida took a tense 7-6 win. 

Friday's game was less in doubt. Although Baltimore scored the game's first goal, the Tropics got six of the next seven to comfortably pull away. Florida improves to 3-0-1 on the season (10 points) to move into first place in the MASL's eastern division. Baltimore falls to 2-3-1 (five points). 

The 2019-20 MASL Defender of the Year now has eight goals and three assists and is second overall in goal-scoring in the league. 

The Tropics also got two goals, an assist from Zach Reget, three assists from Vini Dantas, and a goal and an assist from Victor Parreiras. The Blast beat the Tropics in a shootout Wednesday night, 5-4. 

"I wanted to see how we responded to a disappointing loss two days ago to the same team, and everyone stepped up in a major, professional way, the way I knew we would," 

Coach Clay Roberts said. "It's early in the season, but this was, in many ways, such an important result for us." 

Lucas Roque and Moises Gonzalez had a goal and an assist each to lead the Blast offense. Florida outshot Baltimore 37-32, with Jorge Navarrete getting his third win in goal for the Tropics. 

Florida will be back in action next Wednesday, Dec. 28 in Utica before returning home to meet the Chihuahua Savage on Friday, Dec. 30 at the RP Funding Center.