The DLSU Men’s Football Team concluded the elimination round with a heavy defeat as it succumbed to the UE Red Warriors, 3-1, earlier today at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. Mar Diano capped off UE’s first goal in the 14th minute of the game after an assist by Alberto Echin. He then scored another goal to double UE’s lead in the 26th minute.
La Salle finally scored at the 30’ mark, after Nicko Villacin converted Yoshi Koizumi’s corner kick into a goal with a header, but the Red Warriors found the back of the net once again in the 67th minute courtesy of Mark Lerion’s brilliant solo goal.
DLSU will finish the elimination round in fourth place with 20 points, coming from six wins, two draws, and six loses. “Yes, we’ve entered the Final Four but still we had the chance to go up sa third [place] and help out sa General Championship,” assistant coach Alvin Ocampo shared after the game.
La Salle started strong in the first half, keeping good control of the ball while giving UE little chances for possession. Koizumi was awarded a free kick a minute into the game but Villacin was unable to convert it into a goal. In the 11th minute, another opportunity was open for the Green-and-White when Mathew Custodio passed the ball to Villacin who then passed it to Paeng Siggaoat who took a shot but his shot got deflected by one of UE’s defender.
A goal, however, was scored by UE when midfielder Echin found Diano inside the box, passed the ball towards him which Diano then shot towards the back of the net, giving UE a one goal lead. The UE striker was able to give the team another goal after getting past La Salle defenders Paolo Fernandez and Noel Brago, off an assist by Hanz Arboleda. Not long after, La Salle was able to decrease UE’s lead when Villacin scored a header to put the ball past UE’s keeper coming from a corner kick by Koizumi.
A yellow card was given to Villacin at the 40’ mark for a foul committed on a UE player, and a red card to UE defender Louie Polinag for committing a bad challenge against Jed Diamante at the 42nd minute.
When asked about the yellow card given to Villacin, Ocampo explained, “Villacin is big. Definitely, kung sino makakabanggaan niya, talagang lilipad.”
The second half started with Villacin heading in a ball past UE’s Frank Reiza at the 48’ mark but the celebrations were cut short as the lines-man called for an offside. Three minutes later, Lerion whipped in a cross from the right corner but his cross did not connect with anyone after Brago accidentally fell on Regil Galaura that left the UE player down on the pitch for a few seconds.
Villacin continued his stellar play as the team’s starting striker as he generated an attempt for Marcus Garcia. The towering Lasallian set-up Garcia in the 53rd minute but the latter’s shot outside the box just went out wide for a goalkick.
Exactly a minute following Garcia’s shot attempt, Koizumi was brought down inside the box after he was tackled by a UE player. Custodio then went up to take the penalty-kick but his attempt from 12-yards was way off the target.
“It would have changed yung tempo and even yung game result if ‘di inartehan yung penalty attempt. ‘Yan yung nakikita mo sa TV, yan yung problema sa mga bata ngayon eh. Basic pa rin dapat tayo sa ganyan,” Ocampo said when asked about his thoughts on the penalty miss.
Custodio missed another shot attempt inside the box in the 63rd minute as his follow-up shot went over the bar. Diamante then tried to equalize as he launched an attempt outside the box but his powerful attempt was parried away by Reiza.
The match was sealed away by Lerion after scoring a beautiful solo goal at the 67’ mark. The midfielder dribbled all the way from the center of the pitch to the edge of the box and fired an unstoppable shot past Kerbi Almonte.
Ocampo, who was filling in for head coach Hans Smit in the game, brought in a few substitutes but none of them made an impact to change the momentum of the match as the undermanned UE held on for an impressive victory to close out their campaign. Season 80 for the Lasallians, meanwhile, will continue as they await on their opponent in the Final Four.
La Salle’s opponent will be determined on Thursday, April 19, after the match between the ADMU Blue Eagles and the UP Fighting Maroons. A victory for the Ateneans will catapult them to first place while UP only needs a draw to solidify their hold on top of the standings.