After losing its last three games with a scoreline of 1-0, the DLSU Men’s Football Team extended its winless run to four games as it drew the UST Growling Tigers, 2-all ,yesterday in the Rizal Memorial Stadium. Jayson Rafol found the back of the net at the 25’ and 50’ mark for UST. Marcus Garcia and Jose Montelibano managed to equalize the scoreline for the Green-and-White at the 37th minute and 90+2’ mark.
Lively first half
The first half started with many attempted shots on goal. DLSU got its first free kick of the game at the third minute as Jed Diamante was unable to properly link up with a teammate. Matthew Custodio was the next player to get a shot attempt, but his left-footed shot outside the box was too strong.
UST countered with a cross at the seventh minute, but it was cleared out by Noel Brago. A couple of minutes later, UST earned a corner kick and Paeng De Guzman mistimed his jump and failing to catch the ball. It fell near a UST player and a shot was made, but the Lasallians were there to block the attempt. The ball bounced to another Growling Tiger, who failed to capitalize to score without the keeper guarding the goal.
UST’s Dexter Benecio was then released at the right side of the field and his cross was met by a teammate, but the header was easily caught by De Guzman. DLSU countered with Jose Montelibano dribbling his way past the UST defense, but his shot outside the box went over the bar. The deadlock was broken at the 25th minute as UST’s free kick was mishandled by De Guzman inside his own box. The ball then bounced near the goal and Jayson Rafol was the first player to react and he calmly smashed it in for an easy goal. “That first goal was not supposed to be. I mean, everybody was standing again, that’s the problem,” commented coach Hans Smit.
The Growling Tigers pushed for a second goal, but the Lasallians found the back of the net 12 minutes later. Marcus Garcia sent a finesse shot outside the box to the bottom left corner as he beat UST’s keeper, Jose Abraham, to level the score. Minutes before the half ended, Growling Tiger AJ Pasion tested De Guzman. First, he provided the cross for Benecio to head the ball home, but it hit the woodwork and out for a goal kick. He then tried to score a goal by himself but it was saved by the Lasallian keeper.
Unlike the other games wherein coach Smit can be seen standing, walking, and shouting instructions to his players, he just sat the entire first half on the bench. “I wanted the players [to] find out for themselves what is wrong. Everything has been done, training, talks, motivational speaker, I did everything. It’s all up to them.”
Heated second half
The pace of the game changed in the next 45 minutes, which were very physical. “I was standing up because of the officiating, not because of the way my boys were playing.” Five minutes after the start of the second half, UST regained it’s lead against DLSU. Rafol scored for the Growling Tigers yet again even as he ended the game with a brace. The Green-and-White responded with another change with Alfonso Montelibano coming on for Nicko Villacin.
Despite La Salle’s adjustments, UST continued to control the tempo of the game and tested the La Salle defense with various attacks. DLSU then made another change as Christopher Lawless was subbed out for Jeremiah Bernaldez. At the 57th minute, DLSU earned a free kick which was cleared quickly by the Growling Tigers’ defense. The ball went to Diamante, who took a shot from outside the box, but it went straight to Abraham.
In the Lasallians’ push to level the score, Smit fielded in three new players in a span of 2 minutes. Yoshiharu Koizumi was the first one to enter as he replaced Garcia. Mauro Acot and Eugenio Carlos then came in together to replace Nace Gonzales and Martin Alegre, respectively. Acot provided energetic play down the right side of the field and immediately made an impact in the game. His shot inside the box was denied by Abraham for a corner kick. The corner was quickly taken by the Green-and-White, but was cleared yet again by the UST defense.
DLSU’s momentum came to a halt as a scuffle happened close to a corner flag in its offensive end of the field. Lasallian supporters pleaded for a red card for Darryl Regala, who was given a yellow card. “That’s crazy. Clear, everybody saw it was a headbutt, in front of the linesmen. That is striking a player, that’s an automatic red card,” explained Coach Smit on the situation.
It seemed like the DLSU team was on it’s way to a fourth straight defeat with UST clinging on to a 2-1 lead past the 90th minute. However, J. Montelibano had the final say. J. Montelibano breezed through the right side of the pitch to enter UST’s box and found the back of the net. His first shot was blocked, but he quickly got the rebound and slotted home an important equalizer which sent the DLSU fans celebrating.
When asked about the physical play of the match, Smit said, “If you have lousy officiating, they have no control, that’s what’s gonna happen. [The official] has made non-calls and calls for both teams, unfair calls. I don’t think it’s unfair, I don’t think he did it purposely, he just doesn’t know, including the linesmen.”
La Salle will seek to bounce back and regain its winning ways versus the NU Bulldogs on Thursday, March 2, at 4pm, in Moro Lorenzo Field in Ateneo.