The DLSU Men’s Football Team was held to a 1-1 draw against the UST Growling Tigers earlier today at the FEU-Diliman Football Field. La Salle scored the first goal of the game, courtesy of Yoshi Koizumi, who took a free kick at the 41’ mark, but it was followed by an equalizer as UST’s John De Castro found the back of the net in the 62nd minute.
After today’s game, La Salle still stands at fourth place with 17 points in the league table while UST is placed at third with 19 points. The Green-and-White has yet to be assured of a Final Four slot as its last two games this season are against the NU Bulldogs and UE Red Warriors, who are currently tied at fifth place with 16 points.
Strong first half
La Salle started off strong in the first half, having numerous chances, at the same time sharing equal possession of the ball with UST. Defender Nicko Villacin was positioned as the striker together with Cristian Zubiri, and wasted no time trying to score for the Green-and-White. At the 7’ mark, Villacin made two shot attempts, getting past the UST defender after the first attempt but his shot was blocked by goalkeeper Zaldy Abraham. He then took another attempt in the 12th minute of the game but his ball control was too strong. Realizing this, he then crossed the ball to center Manu Cruel who took a shot from inside the box, which was then caught by the keeper.
UST also had their share of attempts starting at the 11th minute when Steven Anotado took a shot which went directly into the hands of Kerbi Almonte. The Tigers took another try in the 23rd minute when Ian De Castro crossed the ball to AJ Pasion who got past the defenders and took the shot but it was not on target as the ball missed the goal completely.
At the 41’ mark, however, Yoshi Koizumi was given a free kick after a foul was committed by UST. Koizumi’s shot was too strong for Abraham as he tried to tap the ball but it still went inside, giving La Salle its lead, 1-0. “I was so happy I was able to score but then after that, we couldn’t keep the momentum and [we] let them scored.”
The intensity in the last 45 minutes of the match went higher as both teams raised their games up to solidify their respective spots in the Final Four. One minute into the second half, Zubiri was tackled from behind by John De Castro but no card was given to the UST captain. The momentum of the match favored the Taft-based squad as it used their link-up play to generate chances for their second goal.
During a three-minute span from the 49th minute to the 52nd minute, La Salle had two chances to put the match away. The first opportunity came from Renzo Perez, whose volley just went over the bar after receiving the ball from Jeremiah Bernaldez. The second opportunity was produced by Jed Diamante as he slipped a through ball past the UST defence but Perez was not able to meet it as Abraham rushed out of his position to collect the ball.
In the 59th minute, Villacin met Perez’s free-kick but his looping header to the top right corner of the goal was saved by the UST goalkeeper. Two minutes after Villacin’s attempt, Nathan Alcantara was given a questionable yellow card after a foul on a UST winger.
Darwin Busmion took the free kick following the foul call on Alcantara and it eventually led to UST’s equalizer. His free kick was met by a UST player inside the box but the initial header was weak so De Castro quickly followed it up with another header that went past Almonte. “The goal of UST, there’s no f-cking foul. There’s no contact. The player tripped on himself,” head coach Hans Smit said after the game.
“Referee, he was not in shape. He was not in condition to officiate this game and the lines-man here [referring to the lines-man near the Alcantara incident], he always wants to be a f-cking somebody in every game. I know these guys, I’ve known them for years. People haven’t changed,” Smit added.
The goal of De Castro quickly turned the tide to the Growling Tigers’ side as Dexter Benecio and Marvin Bricencio had chances to score the winning goal but both players wasted their respective chances. Smit countered by putting in Mauro Acot, Frederico Alcantara, Mathew Custodio, Chris Lawless, and Paeng Siggaoat for Koizumi, Bernaldez, Perez, Zubiri, and Cruel, respectively.
It was only Siggaoat who had a chance at scoring as his free-kick in the 66th minute was on-target after curling it over the UST wall but it was calmly saved by Abraham. The Growling Tigers had two more chances four minutes into added time but they were not able to capitalize on it, thus resulting to a statemate for both teams.
Team captain Noel Brago and Alcantara will miss the next match due to the accumulated yellow cards this season.
“NU is our next game. As long as they play like this and continue playing like this and not to let up, we still have a chance. We’ll see what happens,” Smit ended.
The Green-and-White will continue to fight for a Final Four slot against the NU Bulldogs on Thursday, April 12, 8 am, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.