by Brian Ackley/Tropics

LAKELAND, Fla – Ricardo Carvalho scored four times, and goalkeeper Jorge Navarette – making only his second ever start in the Major Arena Soccer League – picked up the win as the Florida Tropics roared past Utica City FC 10-3 Sunday in a Major Arena Soccer League game in Lakeland. 

Navarette was the starting goaltender for the Tropics’ outdoor team which went to the United Premier Soccer League’s Final Four this past summer, but had only one previous start in the 2018-19 season in Mississauga. Because many of the Tropics regulars could not cross the border to play, Florida had to sign almost a dozen amateur players from the Toronto area to play that day in front of Navarette, with the Tropics falling 10-0. 

But Sunday was totally a different story. Navarette faced 16 shots, making 13 saves, and got tons of help from his defense. He was a soccer standout at nearby Plant City High School and Southeastern University before signing with the Tropics their initial season, and every season since. 

Carvalho matched a career high with four goals in one game, after getting just one in his first four. 

The Tropics also got a pair from Drew Ruggles and Taylor Walter Bond in building a 6-2 halftime lead. Utica cut it to 6-3 before Florida scored the final four goals on the afternoon.

Florida also got a goal and two assists from Victor Parreiras, a goal and an assist from Bruno Henrique. Utica’s scores came from Joey Tavernese, Nate Bordeau and Ben Ramin. 

With the win, Florida improves to 4-1 on the season (12 points), first place in the Eastern Division, while Utica falls to 2-3 (six points), still good for second in the East. 

Florida was without starting goaltender Hugo Silva for Sunday’s game. The MASL suspended Silva following a review of a collision between Ontario’s Franck Tayou and the Tropics goalkeep in a game on Dec. 18. There was no foul called on the play, but in reviewing the incident, the league’s Discipline Review Committee deemed it a “violent foul” and imposed a one-game (red card) suspension. 

Both teams will be back in action next Sunday at the RP Funding Center in a 3:05 p.m. kickoff. 

The game will be broadcast live on the MASL’s YouTube channel starting at 2:45 p.m. Sunday, with kickoff set for 3:05 p.m. The game will also be broadcast live on the “For the Fans” network available on DirecTV (Channel 623) and many cable and streaming services such as AT&T Uverse, Verizon Fios and Roku. 

Local fans can score free general admission to all of the team’s home games this winter thanks to its sponsors who are presenting the “Tropics Blitz”. 

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 ABOUT THE FLORIDA TROPICS SC: Founded in 2016, the Florida Tropics SC Presented by Bond Clinic fields teams in both the United Premier Soccer League (outdoor at Lake Myrtle Sports Complex in Auburndale) and Major Arena Soccer League (indoor at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland, the highest level of professional arena soccer in the world). The Tropics have played three seasons in the UPSL play, and will start their sixth season in the MASL as defending regular season champions this winter