Two of top scoring teams in UPSL will meet for Southeastern Conference crown, trip to nationals

by Brian Ackley

EVANS, Ga. – Two of the highest scoring teams in the United Premier Soccer League will tangle Saturday in Georgia for the right to advance to the UPSL national championship tournament Aug. 6 and 8 in Los Angeles.

The defending UPSL Spring champion Florida Tropics will meet Kalonji Soccer Academy Pro Premier in a 4 p.m. kickoff at Blanchard Woods Park in suburban Augusta, Georgia. The game will be streamed live by Eleven Sports.

The Tropics were perfect in 2019 when they won the title, going 18-0-0 and winning the championship tournament in Dallas. There was no Spring 2020 season because of the ongoing pandemic, making the Tropics the defending champions.

The Lakeland-based organization – which will start its sixth season in the Major Arena Soccer League late this year at the RP Funding Center – advanced to the Southeastern Conference finals following a dramatic win over Miami Beach CF last weekend on the road.

After going to penalty kicks to decide it, and being down 3-1 at one point in the PK round, netminder Jorge Navarette made stops on the last two tries, and Will Eyang capped a string of four straight PK conversions to give the Tropics the win.

Eyank and Skylar Wilks – who also converted in the final round along with Lucas Montelares and Ninrod Picado – scored in regulation time, but neither side was able to find the back of the net in 30 minutes of overtime.

Eyang is tied with two other players for most goals this spring season with 19, and the Tropics are fourth overall in the country in scoring with 53 goals in 16 games (12-2-2). KSA, which did not lose in the regular season and had one draw, is third in the country in scoring with 69 goals, but have reached that mark in just 14 games.

They are also stout defensively, ranked No. 9 in the UPSL in goals against with just 13. On the season, they have posted seven shutouts, including an 8-0 triumph over Bowling Green, Ky., last weekend. So far in the playoffs, KSA has outscored their opponents by  19-2. Each of the Tropics first three postseason wins came by a lone goal before advancing last weekend on penalties.

Saturday’s winner will advance to the national finals next month.  This year, as the league celebrates its 10-year anniversary,  the UPSL will bring the final four back to the Los Angeles area where it all started. Not only is the event coming back to its roots, but it will take place at two of the finest soccer facilities in the country.

 The two semi-finals games will be hosted at LA Galaxy’s Dignity Health Sports Park, Track Stadium on Friday, August 6. Two days later on Sunday, August 8, the championship game will take place at the appropriately named Championship Soccer Stadium at Great Park.