The DLSU Men’s Football Team earned its first draw of the season after a goalless affair with the ADMU Blue Eagles, 0-0, yesterday at FEU-Diliman Football Field. Ateneo took possession of the ball for the majority of the first half but towards the second half, La Salle regained its composure and upped their game to gain more opportunities of scoring. Despite having equal control over the ball, both teams were not able to score in the match.
Head coach Hans Smit said that although he thinks defending champion Ateneo has a better team with better players, La Salle still held up with their intensity and defense throughout the game. “Ateneo had more dangerous attempts than we had, but we held up, that’s a good sign,” he commented.
Smit also used most of his bench, starting off with a lot of rookies and sophomores in order to have the seniors ste -up if they want to continue earning minutes against tough teams like Ateneo. “I’m glad it’s one point instead of zero,” he said. “We’re still on track, our target and objective this year is to do much better and see if we can take the top four and let all hell break loose and we’ll get there.”
The defending champions kicked-off the match in what could be their last meeting against the Green-and-White this season. The Blue Eagles dictated the pace early on as their midfield and wingers came out bursting with energy while the backline provided a solid wall in front of their goalkeeper, AJ Arcilla.
Reigning MVP Jarvey Gayoso continued his fine form as he made his presence felt six minutes into the match. His first free kick attempt went over the bar but he then immediately produced a brilliant combination play with Mario Ceniza to free up Sam Lim, whose shot went wide. Five minutes later, Gayoso picked up a loose ball near the edge of the box and dribbled his way towards the goal. His run was stopped after he was tackled by Paolo Fernandez but the referee waved off the penalty appeal.
In the 15th minute, Gayoso received a through ball from Ceniza but his powerful shot just went wide for a goal kick. DLSU starting striker Mathew Custodio answered back with his own shot attempt on the other end of the pitch but it was deflected for a corner. Marcus Garcia generated a through ball for Custodio a few minutes later but the Blue Eagle defense reacted quickly to send the ball out for another corner. Despite two consecutive corners for the Green-and-White, it was not able to capitalize as the Katipunan-based squad stood firm.
While they had most of the possession in the first half, the Blue Eagles were not able to muster a goal as they were denied by the La Salle backline led by team captain Noel Brago. Gayoso had two more free kicks in the half but was easily blocked by Brago due to his timely positional awareness.
Towards the end of the half, Cristian Zubiri and Custodio played an excellent one-two but the combination play was halted by the towering ADMU center back William Grierson. Grierson then took a free kick in the second minute of added time, with Jeremiah Rocha rising above everyone else to connect with a header which went wide.
Paeng De Guzman conceded two goals the last time the team played in this pitch but he made sure that none would get past him today. The veteran keeper made two great saves to start off the second half as he denied Gayoso’s close range shot and Lim’s header in the 51st and 53rd minute of the match, respectively.
When asked about the attempts he saved, De Guzman said that he feels happy to be able to make those crucial saves because it is what the team needs. “I am just giving my best for the team as this is my last playing year,” he said.
As for the rest of the match, the rivaling teams tried to break each others’ defenses to score, but no goals were made as De Guzman caught the shots attempted by Ateneo while most of La Salle’s shots were too high. In the final minutes of the game, the pressure was high for both teams as they heightened their defenses to keep the opponent from scoring. Luckily for both Ateneo and La Salle, no one was able to score in those last few minutes as the referee blew the final whistle, signalling the end of the game and closing it off with a draw.
Comparing their performance from that of the first round, Smit said that his team has definitely grown since their first encounter with Ateneo. “We changed a few things in our training. That’s what they needed.” Smit also said that since this is a new team, he has been giving chance to the younger players in hopes that they mature every game. “It’s one game at a time so we’ll see how far we’ll go this season,” he concluded.
For De Guzman, the size of the field was a big factor between the first and second round games but he claimed that he and his team played better the second time around as there were less offensive and defensive mistakes. “We were able to recover from those mistakes and somehow salvaged a point,” he elaborated.
DLSU will look to continue to earn points as it next faces off with the FEU Tamaraws next Sunday, March 18, 5 pm, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.