Round one of Polk COunty UPSL soccer showdown belongs to Florida Tropics

by Brian Ackley

AUBURNDALE, Fla. – Round one of the Polk County United Premier Soccer League showdown has gone to the Florida Tropics.

The Florida Tropics SC, Presented by Bond Clinic, got two goals from Kewin Duque, and single scores from Victor Parreiras and Wendell Albuquerque to defeat a game Winter Haven United FC by a final of 4-1. The game drew a nice sized crowd to the Lake Myrtle Sports Complex despite a steady rain that started around 4 p.m. and continued throughout the evening.

It was the 20th consecutive win for Florida since first fielding an outdoor side last year that features a number of their Major Arena Soccer League stars. The Tropics will play a 12-game fall season and are the defending 2019 Spring UPSL national champions. Because of the ongoing pandemic, the UPSL did not play a spring season this year. Florida will also start its fifth season playing indoors in the MASL this winter at the RP Funding Center. 

“Tonight was a good, solid  effort. We knew Winter Haven was a much improved side, and that we would need to be sharp to get a good result,” Head Coach Lucas Teixeira said. “Our energy was good, and the guys made plays at both ends of the field, making it a true team win.”

In fact, maybe the biggest moment of the game came midway through the second half. With the Tropics clinging to a 2-1 lead, defender Andrew Clare stepped in at the last second to stop a point-blank shot on an open goal that would have tied the game. The Tropics, who lead 2-0 at intermission before giving up a goal in the second minute of the second half, went on to get insurance goals from Duque and Parreiras to secure the win.

Parreiras got his second of the season on a perfectly placed free kick to the top left corner of the goal from just outside the top of the box. Duque, who was a standout at Freedom High School in Orlando, now leads the 2-0 Tropics with three goals th is season. He got the games opening goal on a corner-kick header, while Albuquerque buried one from the top right side of the box later in the first half. 

It was the first time the two teams have met, Winter Haven has fielded a UPSL team for several years now, but just last year moved up to Division 1 play. Despite the weather, the game did not disappoint.

“The boys wanted me to make sure to thank all the fans who came out in this miserable weather. None of us could believe the support both teams received, great crowd,” Texiera said. “It was a tough, physical, well-played game, an overall a great night for soccer in Polk County.”

The two teams will rematch on the Sunday before Thanksgiving in Winter Haven. The two sides are in the UPSL’s Southeastern Conference Florida West Division. Winter Haven fell to 1-2.

The Tropics will play the third of five straight home games next Sunday, Oct. 11 against Dragon City in what will be a showdown for first place in the division. The first-year team is based out of Sarasota.

Admission to games at Lake Myrtle is free. There is a $10 parking fee for single occupant vehicles and $20 for multi-occupant vehicles.