Despite coming from a demoralizing loss against the University of the Philippines, the De La Salle University Men’s Football Team were determined to defeat frontrunners Ateneo in a highly contested match today at the Moro Lorenzo field at the Ateneo De Manila University. Being a do-or-die match, the Green Booters must defeat Ateneo to extend the semi-finals to a second leg in order to keep their final hopes alive.
Both rivals took one game apiece in the elimination round with Ateneo slipping in a slim 1 – 0 win in the first game. La Salle, however, was not fazed and bounced back by demolishing the Blue Booters, 2 – 0, in their second meetup.
Team Captain Patrick Deyto was once again the man between the sticks. Considered as one of the best, if not the best, goalkeeper in the league, the veteran claims that the semi-final game against Ateneo could be the biggest game in his collegiate career.
Despite playing under the scorching sun, both squads appeared hungry for a win and determined to give everyone a good dame.
And that, they did.
From the start of the game, it was obvious that La Salle’s game plan was to attack on the wings with Celdran and Rabaya teaming up on the right flank to expose Ateneo’s left back. Despite being able to create space for himself, Celdran was not able to make any threatening passes from the wings.
Counter-attacking also seemed to be in La Salle’s arsenal after the Green Booters almost beat Ateneo’s goalkeeper, Nicholas O’Donnell with a quick strike from the left. However, the big man was up to the challenge and easily caught the strike.
Ateneo also had a good chancing after taking advantage of a bad back pass by one of La Salle’s midfielders to the back four in the 10th minute, but Greg Yang and the rest of his defenders were able to regain possession before things got out of hand.
Shortly after taking a free kick, Ateneo’s Mabanag tried his luck by shooting on goal, but his strike went just wide of the target. Ateneo receives its first yellow card of the game in the 22nd minute after Paredes pushed aside La Salle’s Johguev Ybañez in a scruffle in the left flank.
Although both squads had their fair share of chances, it was La Salle who looked the brighter squad throughout the first half. They were able to build up in the midfield instead of relying on counter-attacks. La Salle were able to keep possession of the ball which frustrated the Katipunan-based squad who relied on counter attacks from long balls coming from the defense.
Amisola gave La Salle its clearest chance in the 25th minute after kicking the ball with his heel from a corner, but the shot hit the goal’s side netting. It was the perfect opportunity to put the Green Booters in front as Ateneo’s keeper was caught off-guard.
Ateneo’s Calvo gave the Green Booters’ backline a scare after breaking through La Salle’s defense. Despite outdribbling 2 La Salle defenders, Calvo was not able to convert the chance handed to him. Patrick Deyto was then given a yellow card for overcomplaining to the referee after a foul that Calvo supposedly committed.
Half Time Score : La Salle 0 – Ateneo 0
La Salle dominated the first half both in terms of possession and chances. However, Ateneo looked more aggressive in the start of the second half. Mabanag was able to curl in a dangerous looking free kick, but La Salle’s defense stood strong and Deyto had a fairly easy time collecting their chances. Ateneo’s defense were shaky, but the individual skill and effort showed by goalkeeper Nicholas O’Donnell kept Ateneo in level terms.
Mayol added La Salle’s yellow card tally after colliding with Ateneo’s Calvo. Philip Gozali almost put Ateneo in front after only slightly misguiding a header from Mabanag’s free kick in the 57th minute.
La Salle’s midfield and defense then started to lose some steam. Celdran was not given enough balls to create the chances that he made in the first half, and he was substituted by Borromeo afterwards. Moreover, the defense also ignored Ateneo’s Paredes who was silently lurking on the left flank. Thankfully, Ateneo’s midfield also failed to spot Paredes. Moreover, Ateneo’s strikers and midfielders looked clueless on the final third of the pitch which caused them to not make any proper attacks.
Antonio Bonoan was given a yellow card after a nasty challenge on a La Salle player, while team captain Christian Noel was also booked after cursing too much.
La Salle unleashed two consecutive defense splitting through passes to Rabaya and D. Diamante, but both dribbled too much and was not able to make a clear shot on goal. Uy, who substituted D. Diamante, tore Ateneo’s defense apart after another through pass from the midfield but again, he took too much time in dribbling and was not able make a clear shot on goal.
David Diamante gave La Salle its clearest chance of the game in the 85th minute after finessing a ball from the left that went just wide of the goal.
In games held in these kinds of conditions, it’s important for the players to have good conditioning. Ateneo’s coach seemingly ignored his player’s exhaustion and did not made any substitutions unless a player is injured.
Ateneo tried to win the game in regulation with just seconds left on the clock with another header but it went just above the net. The second half ended with a 0 – 0 scoreline, thus forcing the game into extra time. Extra time only reflected the other halves with both squads squandering their chances. Since most teams aren’t used to playing for an extended period of time, it doesn’t come as a surprise that injuries will occur.
It was Ateneo who was to defend their post first. Alquiros was pitted against Ateneo’s # 1 who was already having an outstanding game. However, O’Donnell guessed the wrong way which allowed La Salle to take the lead. Murayama then squandered a chance after kicking the ball way wide of the target. Deyto guessed the wrong way, thus allowing Calvo to equalize with the score tied at 1 – 1. It was then Greg Yang’s turn to increase La Salle’s lead, but O’Donnell was able to keep it out after diving to the right.
It was downhill for La Salle from there after Ateneo’s Mabanag, Liay, and Noel converted their penalties. It was fitting that graduating Patrick Deyto was the last one to take the kick in what could be his last game donning in a green and white jersey. The goalkeeper took one big breath before approaching the ball.
The Moro Lorenzo field seemed to have gone quiet, but the silence did not last as Deyto missed, enabling Ateneo to clinch finals birth and will face the winner of the UP – FEU series.
With the loss, La Salle finishes fourth place which was the same standing they got from last season’s tournament.