Tropics falter in second half, fall to Baltimore Blast 4-3 in playoff opener

by Florida Tropics

LAKELAND, FL. -- The Baltimore Blast have taken a one-game lead in their Major Arena Soccer League Eastern Conference semi-finals series with the Florida Tropics, taking a 4-3 win at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland Friday night. 

The two teams will tangle again Saturday night in Baltimore. The Tropics will need a win in that game, and the 15-minute "knockout" game that would follow the conclusion of game two to advance to the conference finals. 

The Tropics took a 2-1 third-quarter lead on a goal by Ricardo Diegues, his second of the game, but the Blast scored the next three in a row capped by the game-winner by Jonatas Melo with 59 seconds to play to make it 4-2. 

Drew Ruggles converted a restart goal from the top of the box with 49 seconds to go, but Florida was not close to getting an equalizer. Tony Donatelli, Lucas Roque, and Mike Deasel got the other Baltimore goals. 

The winner of the series will move on to meet the Milwaukee Wave, Kansas City Comets, or Utica City FC in the conference finals depending on the outcome of Monday's play-in game in Utica against Kansas City. That winner will meet the Wave for the right to advance.