Local soccer star Jorge Navarrete re-signs with Tropics for 2022-23 season

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla. -- A local soccer star who played a key role in the Florida Tropics run to the Major Arena Soccer League championship series last spring is back with the pro indoor team on a new one-year contract.

Jorge Navarrete – who played his high school soccer at Plant City High and in college at Lakeland’s Southeastern University under Tropics coach Clay Roberts who also leads the Fire  – originally signed with Florida in its first-ever season and 2016-17, and has been with the team ever since.

However, it wasn’t until last season that he got his chance to play significant minutes in the regular season and playoffs, ending the season with a record of 3-0 in five games (four starts) with a goals against average of 5.75 and a saves percentage of .744. His saves percentage would have ranked second in the entire MASL if he had played enough qualifying minutes. He had played only 65 total minutes in Florida’s five previous seasons, making one start in 2018-19 in Mississauga, Canada. 

In the playoffs, Navarrete made two starts, including the Tropics first-ever home playoff game, an 8-4 win over the St. Louis Ambush. He finished the post season with a 6.10 GAA and .707 saves percentage.

“We’re thrilled for him to be back. For Jorge, as long as he’s able and capable, we’re going to try to get him back every year,” Roberts said. “He’s committed and he’s going to be a huge part of what we do this year.” 

Navarrete burst onto the Tropics soccer scene in a big way, as the starting goalkeeper for the 2020 Florida Tropics. backstopping the outdoor team to the United Premier Soccer League’s Final Four national championship round where the team finished third.

In 64 career starts at Southeastern, Navarrete posted a 1.56 goals against average, and finished with an overall record of 37-19. At Plant City, he was a three-time varsity letter winner in both soccer and football. 

Florida opens its seventh season in the Major Arena Soccer League --  which represents the highest level of professional indoor soccer in the world featuring teams across North America, with teams playing coast-to-coast in the United States and Mexico, and players from over 15 countries – on Saturday, Dec. 10 on the road against the Baltimore Blast.

The Tropics home opener, the first of 12 games at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland, comes a week later on Dec. 17 in a 5:05 p.m. start against Utica. All 24 Tropics games will be broadcast live on the MASL Twitch Channel.

Season ticket information is available at www.fltropics.com, or by calling 863-240-0101.

(PHOTOS: Christopher Arnold / Florida Tropics)