Hello Hollywood! Tropics rally in overtime to advance to UPSL Final Four in Los Angeles Aug. 6 and 8

by Brian Ackley

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- There will indeed be a Hollywood finish for the Florida Tropics in the United Premier Soccer League's 2021 Spring season.

Lucas Montelares, who scored both game winning goals in the national semifinals and finals when Florida won the last UPSL Spring crown in 2019, converted on a penalty kick late in overtime, and Alejandro Gonzalez added an insurance marker a couple minutes later, to lift the Tropics to a 3-1 in over the Kalonji Soccer Academy Pro Premier team Saturday in Augusta, Georgia. 

It was a tough, grueling affair that almost ended in heartbreaking fashion.

Within 30 seconds of securing a trip to the UPSL championship finals in Los Angeles Aug. 6 and 8, KSA tied the game in the sixth minute of stoppage time. 

With the heat index in triple digits, Florida looked like a goal two minutes into the second half might just be enough. Julian Hall, breaking down the right wing, played a perfect ball into the box to the foot of Will Eyang who made no mistake on the redirect. For Eyang, it was his 20th goal of the spring; he came into the game tied for the UPSL in total goals this season.

KSA didn't really have a lot of great chances in the second half until getting the equalizer. They have not lost a game this season, after getting a draw in their very first game on March 28. . The Tropics had been a long unbeaten stretch as well, not having lost since April 24, their fourth game of the year.

Just moments before Montelares buried his PK into the top right corner of the net -- setting off a wild celebration amongst the boisterous contingent of Tropics supporters who made the seven-plu hour tip, he banged a free-kick from 25 yards out squarely off the right post in the 23rd minute,

"That's basically the brand we're trying to promote, that's the DNA that we want, just to not quit," Coach J.P. Reyes said. "I had the idea we had a few goals in us, I just didn't know when those goals were going to come. "I have confidence in all 19 players I have. They all play a role, and they've all bought into that. Not that we want the games to go to 120, but playoffs is a different beast than the regular season. We found a system where everyone knows their roles, and it's awesome."

The Tropics improved for 13-2-2, and have not lost a game since April 24. For Kalonji, it was their first loss all season, and they will finish the season at 13-1-1.