Tropics rally in PK round to advance to UPSL national quarterfinals

by Brian Ackley

MIAMI BEACH -- All it took was a big swing in fortune during penalty kicks to lift the Florida Tropics to the national quarterfinals of the United Premier Soccer League playoffs Saturday night in Miami.

The 2019 Spring  UPSL national champion Tropics and Miami Beach CF battled to a 2-2 tie through 90 minutes of regulation time and another 30 minutes of extra time before going to PK's to decide a winner. 

Miami Beach CF converted on their first three, before Florida goalkeeper Jorge Navarette stopped the last two that came his way, with diving saves low to his left on the last two tries the hosts took.

Meanwhile, after missing its first PK, the Tropics hit four straight to claim the win, vaulting them to the Southeastern regional final -- or national quarterfinals -- next weekend in Augusta, Ga. where they will meet Kalonji Pro Profile, who play out of suburban Atlanta, and who rolled past Bowling Green FC 8-0 Saturday. Final details of that matchup will be released in the coming days.

Nico Riveros converted the first of the four straight Tropics PK's, followed by goals from Ninrod Picado, Lucas Montelares and the game-winner from Will Eyang.

Eyang scored on a breakaway in the first half. Just prior to the 30 minute mark, a lightning quick transition play from the Florida defensive third saw one othe nation's leading scorers with the ball, splitting the last two Miami Beach defenders to creat his chance.

In the second half, Skylar Wilks converted a far post header in the second half for Florida's two goals in regulation. 

Additional details will be posted on the team's social media platforms during the week regarding the regional finals game in Augusta.   Next weekend's winner will advance to the national finals scheduled Aug. 6 and 8 in Los Angeles. The Tropics are the defending UPSL national champions, winning that title in 2019 with a perfect 18-0-0 mark. There was no spring 2020 season because of the Covid-19 outbreak. 

The Tropics improved to 12-2-2 on the season, and have not lost a game since late April.