Shorthanded Tropics give gutty effort for playoff win in overtime, advance to UPSL Round of 32
AUBURNDALE, Fla. – A shorthanded Florida Tropics squad rallied from a two-goal halftime deficit to advance to the third round of the United Premier Soccer League playoffs with a 4-3 overtime win against the PSE Conquistadores Saturday night at the Lake Myrtle Sports Complex.
Will Eyang, who was among the top 10 scorers in the UPSL during the regular season despite missing several games, scored three goals in a nine minute span early in the second half to lead the comeback and lead the Tropics to the UPSL Florida West division championship.
Alejandro Arias got the game winner just two minutes into the first 15-minute overtime period as Florida moves on to the UPSL Round of 32 to matchup up against the GOSA Spurs, winners of the Florida Central division playoffs.
The Tropics played without 2019 UPSL Spring Most Valuable Player Victor Parreiras, who reinjured a leg in the team’s first-round 2-1 playoff win over Florida Premier. The team’s other Major Arena Soccer League star, defender Lucas Monterlares, left the game around the 40 minute mark of the first half with an injury. Ironically, its was Parreiras and Montelares who scored both goals in the Tropics first round playoff win.
The Conquistadores made quick work of the Tropics defense after that – Florida was also without stalwart defender Andrew Claire – scoring two goals in the final minutes of the first half to take a 2-0 lead to intermission.
But just over a minute into the second half, a fired-up Tropics team got back into the match when Eyang converted a penalty kick. Just moments after that, Eyang deked around PSE goalkeeper Justin Santos to slot a shot to the far post to tie the game, and completed his natural hat trick converting a second penalty kick in the 54th minute.
Luke Schwarz got the equalizer for the Conquistadores midway through the second half to force 30 minutes of overtime play. With his club clinging to a 4-3 lead, winning netminder Jorge Navaratte made the stop of the night, getting a hand on a low screamer off the foot of Nicholas Colacci, who worked himself free in the box, letting fly from about 15 yards out only to be stoned by Navarette midway through the first overtime.
The depleted Tropics were able to run out the remainder of overtime to improve to 10-2-2 on the season. Florida is the defending UPSL Spring national champions, having won that title with a perfect 18-0-0 season. There was no spring season last year in the UPSL because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Tropics v. Spurs matchup will be played the weekend of July 10 and 11. A final date, time and site will be determined in the coming days, with information posted at www.fltropics. Com and on the team’s social media sites.
The UPSL was founded in 2011 and currently includes more than 300 teams nationally. The UPSL is the fastest growing Pro Development League in the USA, with 400-plus teams targeted for 2021/22 Season. Each UPSL team is individually owned and operated, and is responsible for maintaining UPSL minimum standards at all tier levels.
UPSL teams are all eligible to participate in the U.S. Open Cup Qualifying Rounds through the leagues affiliation with the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) and the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA).
Additional information regarding the UPSL can be found by following the league on social media via Facebook (www.facebook.com/upslsoccer), Instagram (@upslsoccer) and Twitter (@upslsoccer).
In addition to its outdoor side, the Tropics will start their sixth season in the Major Arena Soccer League late this fall at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland, with a 24-game 2021-2022 schedule expected to be released in early fall.