by Brian Ackley/Tropics

LAKELAND, FL – The Florida Tropics will have to travel to San Diego this weekend and win twice to claim their first ever Major Arena Soccer League championship, after the Sockers rallied for a 6-3 win in Game One of the Ron Newman Cup Finals Monday night in Lakeland. 

Back-to-back goals by Zach Reget early in the fourth gave the homestand Tropics a short-lived 3-2 lead. Kraig Chiles, tied for the lead in goal scoring in the MASL postseason, tied things up for San Diego just 24 seconds after Reget’s second, and 55 seconds after that, Brandon Escoto got what proved to be the game winner. 

Guerrero Pino and Cesar Cerda each got empty net goals late to provide the Sockers – who are seeking their 16th indoor soccer championship dating back to 1981-82 when they defeated the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the North American Soccer League indoor championships – their final margin of victory. 

Victor Parreiras got Florida off to a quick start converting a restart from the top of the arc just 64 seconds into the game before Tavoy Morgan scored twice, one to tie it five minutes later in the first period and getting the only goal of the second period, to give San Diego a 2-1 lead at intermission. 

With his two goals, Reget now leads all MASL post-season scorers with 15 points (eight goals, seven assists). Chiles also has eight goals for the Sockers in the playoffs. San Diego outshot the Tropics 28-20. 

Sunday’s game in San Diego will be broadcast live on MASL TV on Twitch. This is the first time in the Tropics six-year history they have advanced to the league finals, and were knocked out by San Diego in the 2020-21 playoffs by the Sockers as well, who went on to win another championship. San Diego has now gone 40 consecutive games, dating back to the 2020-21 regular season, with a loss in regulation time.