by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla. – Ian Bennett is quickly becoming Central Florida’s newest sports star.

The Florida Tropics forward – on loan to the team from the Milwaukee Wave who are not
playing in the Major Arena Soccer League’s 2021 season because of Coronavirus
restrictions in Wisconsin – scored his second consecutive hat-trick, and got the game
winner at 5:02 of overtime to lift the Tropics to a thrilling 8-7 win over the Kansas City
Comets Friday night at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.

It was the first overtime win at the RP Funding Center in the team’s five-year history, and
Bennett’s “golden goal” was the only time all game Florida had the lead. Twice the
Comets had leads of three goals, – 3-0 early, and 7-4 in the second half – before scoring
the last four goals of the game.

“We knew that they were laying back so we just said to the guys to keep shooting, keep
being in position to be aggressive and good things would happen,” Florida Coach Clay
Roberts. “It was a real gut check for us, and the guys responded in championship
fashion, to come back from those deficits twice like we did. It wasn’t perfect, but what an
entertaining night for our fans and the MASL as a whole.”

Kansas City got three goals from player coach Leo Gibson, and single scores from Lucas
Souza, Adam James, Matt Lewis and Henry Ramirez, who missed a glorious opportunity
to score two minutes into extra time, missing the mark with a wide open goal from 20
feet out. 

Victor Parrieras got his first of the year, and added two assists, for a three-point night.
Guilherme scored twice, and Florida got lone markers from Ricardo Sobriera and
Ricardo Carvalho.

Bennett had a hat trick last Sunday in Florida’s 7-5 win over the St. Louis Ambush, and
now leads the MASL in goal scoring with six. He has been either a first or second team
All MASL player in each of the last five years.

The two teams will rematch Sunday at the RP Funding Center in a 3:05 start. Florida
improved to 3-0 with the win, while Kansas City fell to 1-1.

At present, 11 teams have committed to playing in the 2021 season, although that could
still change depending on local restrictions related to the pandemic. Six teams are
playing in January, with the remaining teams to join the mix in February. Teams will play
between 12 and 24 games, with playoff seeding determined by overall winning

The league is announcing schedules only a month at a time because of the pandemic
restrictions, but the final games of the regular season will be played by April 18.

Single game tickets are available through the team’s Facebook page (click on the event
link), or by calling 863-240-0101. Tickets will also be available gameday at the RP
Funding Center box office. The team and arena have devised a socially distanced seating
plan that can accommodate approximately 1,500 fans per game. Facial coverings will be
required for those in attendance.