by Pete Richmire

LAKELAND, FL. – The Stars (6-7-1) began a five-game road swing in the Sunshine State and despite coming from as many as three goals down to tie the game, dropped a 9-8 decision to the Florida Tropics (9-6-2) at the RP Funding Center Sunday afternoon.

The teams combined for five goals in the 1st quarter, and it started early with Vini Dantas finding the back of the net just 43 seconds into the game for a 1-0 Tropics lead.

The Stars took a 1st quarter lead on goals from Logan Jones and Chiva Ramirez, both assisted by Nick Perera to put Tacoma up 2-1 with 8:22 still to go in the opening frame. Perera ended the game with five points on a pair of goals and three assists.

Perera’s five points was topped only by Florida’s Ricardo Diegues, who scored the first two of his four goals and finished with six points on the day to close out scoring in the first quarter with Florida holding a 3-2 lead.

As fast paced as the opening quarter was, Tacoma and Florida each scored three goals in the 2nd quarter. The first two went to the Tropics, including Diegues’ third and a power play goal from Luan Oliveira, assisted by Diegues to stretch Florida’s lead to 5-2 with 3:45 to go until halftime.

As it turned out, it would take the Stars less than a minute to string three goals together and tie the game at 5-5 with 1:21 on the clock. Mike Ramos, Nani Mendoza, and Perera scored in succession and put the Tropics on their heels.

Florida didn’t stay that way long though, as Anthony Arico used a Diegues assist to give the Tropics a 6-5 lead at the break.

Ramirez’s second goal of the game for the Stars brought them level once again with an assist by Perera. It was 6-6 with 14:12 to go in the 3rd. The teams scored 11 goals in the first half but managed just two in the 3rd quarter with Lucio Gonzaga scoring for Florida to give them yet another lead, this one a 7-6 advantage headed to the final quarter.

To kick off 4th quarter scoring, Perera’s 15th goal of the season brought the game to its fifth tie, 7-7 with under 10 minutes to play.

Back-to-back goals by Florida, first from Diegues and then Dantas’ second of the game, put the Tropics in front, this time for good at 9-7 with 8:39 remaining.

Adam West connected with Fellipe Souza for Tacoma’s final goal of the game with 36 seconds on the clock and reach the final score of 9-8.

Tacoma heads to Texas next week for stops in Dallas on Friday and Mesquite on Saturday before wrapping up their road swing the following week in Mexico. The Stars will finally return home on Saturday, March 18 to host Mesquite for Retro/Alumni Night at 7:05 pm.

Tickets for that game are available at