Navarette comes up huge as Tropics tip Suns, 2-1, to keep playoff hopes alive

by Brian Ackley

LAUDERHILL, Fla. – Victor Parreiras got the game winner, but it was Jorge Navarette who saved the day for the Lakeland Tropics, who kept their Premier Development League soccer playoff hopes alive with a scrappy 2-1 road win against the Palm Beach Suns Wednesday.

Navarette --  starting his first game for the Tropics in goal due to the suspension of starting goalkeep Jonathan Valerio who was red carded last Saturday -- knocked away a Palm Beach penalty kick in the 61st minute to preserve the win. Navarette played for the Suns last season.

Parreiras, normally a playmaker who leads Lakeland with five assists this year,  curled in a perfectly struck shot from the side of the box just four minutes before Navarette's heroics. It was the wingers first goal, lifting Lakeland to 8-2-1. Palm Beach fell to 2-8-1.

The Tropics have 25 points. FC Miami City (9-1-0) leads the nine-team southeast division with 27 points, while the Soccer Institute of Montverde Academy (8-1-1) also has 25 points. However, both teams were playing Wednesday night as well. Only the top two teams in the division make the PDL post-season.

Juan Tejada's beautiful individual effort starting from about the 18-yard line, eluding several Suns defenders, gave Lakeland a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute when he buried his fifth of the year from 12 yards out.

The Tropics will be back at home for their final regular season game at Bryant Stadium Sunday against IMG Academy. Kickoff will be at 5:35 p.m.

A win then would create a playoff showdown matchup Tuesday when the Tropics travel to SIMA to take on the Aguilas. Lakeland handed SIMA its first loss of the season at Bryant Stadium last weekend.