The DLSU Men’s Football Team opened the second round of the UAAP Season 79 Football Tournament with a 2-0 win against the AdU Soaring Falcons yesterday at the Moro Lorenzo field in Ateneo. Nicko Villacin delivered the first goal of the game with a header at the 67th minute while Jed Diamante sealed the game for the Lasallians with a goal from distance in the 90+4’ mark.
Ecstatic first half
DLSU kicked off the match and quickly produced quality scoring chances. Jose Montelibano was the first to take a shot at the 4’ mark. However, his shot was distant from the right post despite being able to beat two defenders. La Salle had a handful of opportunities during the opening half, but was still unable to secure an early lead.
A combination play by Marcus Garcia and Nace Gonzalez sparked La Salle’s offense, but the latter’s shot was off target. Within only 20 minutes of play, Martin Alegre took a hard fall while battling out for ball possession against a Soaring Falcon. Alegre was unable to stand from what appeared to be a knee injury and was brought off the pitch on a stretcher. He was then replaced by Jhoguev Ybañez.
La Salle continued to carry on its offensive charge immediately with Montelibano misfiring a header from a Noel Brago free kick. A minute later, a cross from Juan Siggaoat found Montelibano, whose header was deflected by AdU’s goalkeeper, Carl Viray. Gonzales then got the rebound, but shot the ball over the crossbar.
The few remaining minutes of the first half featured the skill of Gonzales and the defensive prowess of Kerbi Almonte. A counter attack by the Soaring Falcons found the ball between Noah Dela Cruz and Almonte. The latter charged and denied an easy goal.
Gonzalez then received a well-placed pass from Nathan Alcantara which placed him inside the box. However, Gonzalez was unable to take control of the ball. After 30 minutes of consistent attacking from La Salle, AdU eventually looked to score on counter attacks which were thwarted by Almonte.
Before the half ended, Gonzales’ crafty dribbling earned the Lasallians a corner which they were unable to capitalize on.
Avid second half
La Salle’s energy was even more noticeable during the second half as the Green-and-White continued to search for the opening goal of the game. Both teams started utilizing their bench during the 60’ mark. Ejike Ugwoke was subbed in for Dela Cruz while Matt Custodio and Rigo Joseph came in for Yoshi Koizumi and Montelibano.
Before Gonzales was replaced by Mauro Acot at the 66’ mark, he was fouled near the left wing. The foul awarded Brago a free kick whose pass was on target to Villacin, who opened the scoring for DLSU with a header.
The 79’ mark featured another Diamante free kick. The sophomore’s pass found Cristian Zubiri inside the box as his header sailed inches away from the crossbar. La Salle continued to control ball possession as the Soaring Falcons were eager to equalize.
In the closing stages of the game, Diamante made a stunning goal in the final minute of the match. With Viray out of position, he fired a high-arcing shot from beyond the box and found the back of the net to seal a 2-0 victory for the Green-and-White.
Coach Hans Smit still believes in his team’s capabilities despite finishing the first round with only one victory. “Attitude’s all that needs to be changed and they showed it, and everybody was following the play.” However, he mentioned that the team still has room for improvement, particularly in terms of finishing.
La Salle will resume its men’s football campaign versus the UE Red Warriors on Sunday, March 19, at 3 pm in the Rizal Memorial Stadium.