The Orlando SeaWolves used a dominant first half and overcame torrid goalkeeping from Hugo Silva to defeat the Florida Tropics at Silver Spurs Arena, 6-3. Gordy Gurson and Osvaldo Rojas each notched a brace and added an assist for Orlando (8-9), while Richard Schmermund and Elmo Neto both chipped in a pair of assists. With the loss, the Tropics dropped to 5-14.
Orlando is 3-2 in Florida Indoor Derby matches against the Tropics this season with one meeting left.
The SeaWolves controlled the first half of the opening period, holding possession and getting scoring opportunities. Orlando should have been on the board in the first minute but Schmermund’s pass in close was behind Jonny Mendoza and the chance went away. Seconds later, Gurson was denied by Silva on the doorstep.
Edwin Rojas made a nice turn-and-shoot play in the attacking zone in the fourth minute but the shot was blocked in front of goal. Eduardo Cruz and Gurson each then fired wide as Orlando looked for the opener.
Mendoza got the SeaWolves the breakthrough at the 8:11 mark. He picked up a loose ball, streaked down the right side, and slotted a gorgeous shot off the far post and in to make it 1-0.
The Tropics held possession for a few minutes after the goal but couldn’t do much with it, firing wide on a couple shot attempts. After that, the SeaWolves slowed the game down and held possession to regroup. It worked, as Orlando went back on the front foot and Gurson nearly doubled the lead a couple of times. He took a nice pass from Derek Huffman but opted to take a touch rather than shoot and the defense closed him down. Seconds later, the ball came to him in front.
No further damage was done and the quarter ended with the SeaWolves nursing a 1-0 lead. Orlando out-shot Florida in the opening quarter, 10-4 (5-2 on target).
Rainer Hauss kept the SeaWolves ahead early in the second period with a big save on Melvin Boateng. Derek Huffman then had a shot in close stopped moments later at the other end.
Orlando doubled the lead 3:17 into the second quarter on a set piece. Schmermund took the free kick and fizzed it into the area where Osvaldo Rojas flicked it in past Silva to make it 2-0 with his 17th goal of the season.
Florida turned up the intensity after the second Orlando goal and pressed higher up the field. By doing so, the Tropics were able to keep Orlando hemmed in for a bit, but didn’t threaten goal a lot as a result.
Gurson was again denied at the 5:33 mark on a partial breakaway on a nice save by Silva, who made himself big. Moments later, Mario Alvarez hit an inside-out shot that went just inches wide of the back post.
At the 9:17 mark, the Tropics got a decent chance in close but Antonio Manfut missed wide. Just over a minute later, Florida’s Victor Parreiras got his shin on a shot by Lewis Neal and deflected it just over the bar and onto the roof of the net as the SeaWolves continued to generate chances.
Schmermund then sent two blasts at the net but the first was saved by Silva and the second rattled the Plexiglass just inches wide of goal. After that, Anthony Arico took down Kevin Naranjo roughly from behind, handing Orlando the game’s first power play.
Schmermund and Naranjo missed early shots on the manpower advantage but then Schmermund’s long-range effort was redirected into the net by Osvaldo Rojas, who stuck out a knee and steered it past Silva to make it 3-0 with the power-play goal at the 12:34 mark.
That was it for the first-half scoring, and Orlando took its lead into the break. The SeaWolves held a 23-9 advantage in shots (15-5 on goal),
“We executed the things that we wanted to do,” Head Coach Tom Traxler said after the first half.
Florida came out of the locker room with a lot more energy, desperate to get back into the game. The Tropics were able to create some opportunities and keep the ball more in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Florida eventually found the net at the 5:51 mark, catching Orlando on the break and pulling within 3-1 on a strike by Enzo Marangoni.
Gurson pulled that goal right back two minutes later with an acrobatic effort after Osvaldo Rojas knocked one off the boards to the right of goal.
But Florida pulled that goal back less than a minute later. Elmo Neto blasted a shot that Silva saved and then the Tropics broke the other way. Manfut hit a ball off the boards that deflected out in front of goal. Joshio Sandoval had a chance to clear it but couldn’t make good contact and it dropped perfectly for Arico to slot home, making it 4-2.
Luiz Mota and Osvaldo Rojas each smashed a shot right at Silva as the SeaWolves peppered the Florida net but had trouble beating the keeper. Seconds later, Alvarez was absolutely robbed on a great save by Silva, who did well to keep the Tropics in the game all night.
A dubious call on Huffman gave the Tropics a set piece at the top of the circle but it was Orlando capitalizing. The SeaWolves dealt with the set piece and broke the other way. A pass put an easy goal on the plate for Neal but he couldn’t get his footing right and the ball went through to the far side, where Huffman slotted home to make it 5-2 at the 14:49 mark. Orlando still led by three after three periods.
The fourth quarter was a bit back-and-forth but both teams had trouble scoring. Silva continued to make huge saves for the Tropics to keep the game from becoming a blowout. On the other end, Florida’s attackers saw their shots either blocked or sail wide for much of the period.
Despite pulling Silva for an extra attacker multiple times, the SeaWolves didn’t bend and Gurson added an insurance goal in the final minute.
Unfortunately, the SeaWolves’ goal differential took a knock with 13 seconds remaining as Manfut volleyed home a shot to make it 6-3.
Orlando finished with 52 shot attempts to 33 for the Tropics, with a 35-23 advantage in shots on goal. The SeaWolves were 1/1 on the power play and the Tropics were 0/1.
The SeaWolves host the Kansas City Comets Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. Orlando needs every win it can get heading down the home stretch if it wants to keep its playoff hopes alive in the South Central Division. The SeaWolves are half a game behind Kansas City with a game in hand, and are also two wins behind St. Louis, but with four games in hand.