Earlier today at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, the DLSU Green Booters edged the UP Fighting Maroons, 2-1, to book a ticket to the UAAP Season 81 Men’s Football Finals, a first in four seasons.
After the game, Shanden Vergara spoke about his thought process as he scored the go-ahead goal at the 77th minute of the match. “I didn’t expect that I was gonna get that ball and I was very lucky. I took a chance and I scored. It wasn’t just for me, but it was for my teammates and [for] everyone who supported us,” he shared.
Thrilling first half
The first half kicked off with the Fighting Maroons taking advantage of their left wing offense. A back-and-forth start from an offensive standpoint was observed as both teams created opportunities for scoring. The Fighting Maroons made a total of 10 scoring attempts while the Green Booters contributed five for the first half.
UP started off with a dance-off in the midfield which converted to a sixth minute missed shot kudos to Mikio Umilin’s defensive header. The Green Booters then came up with their own counter-attack to the right wing, creating opportunities at the 10th and 12th minute. The Fighting Maroons then brought pressure to DLSU’s defense by short passing the ball, but failed to shoot at the sequence. The deadlock was finally broken when Green Booters team captain Jed Diamante’s set piece connected for a header scored by rookie Jovan Marfiga.
However, the Fighting Maroons were not yet done with their offensive onslaught. UP’s Jerold Facturanan almost scored a goal at the 32nd minute after his cross hit the post of the goal. But in the closing minutes of the half, UP team captain Kintaro Miyagi found the equalizer after the defensive scrabble inside the box of DLSU’s defense.
Crucial goal at the second half
Miyagi opened the second half of the match by almost giving UP the lead in the 46th minute. The Fighting Maroons continued to attack the defense of the Green Booters as they generated several opportunities to score, but La Salle remained patient and stopped multiple shot attempts from UP.
The intensity of the game reached its peak at the 62nd minute after a scuffle ensued between UP’s Miyagi and DLSU’s Juan Siggaoat when the former pushed the latter. The referee handed out two yellow cards, one for Fighting Maroon Miyagi and the other to Green Booter Clarence Limchiko, who was also involved in the altercation.
At the 66th minute mark, UP had several chances to take the 2-1 lead but failed to convert two corner kicks. Going on a counterattack, the Green-and-White clinched their second goal of the match after Vergara’s chip flew past UP goalkeeper Jose Yared at the 77th minute. The remainder of the game saw La Salle denying UP to equalize the match up until the final whistle blew.
A victory to build on
After the game, Vergara shared about the team’s mindset heading into the Finals. “We have to work to win kahit mahirapan kami basta mapakita kami na lumalaban at hindi namin pinabayaan ang isa’t isa. Gagawin namin ito para sa teammates, sa seniors, at para kay coach Alvin at coach Hans,” he expressed.
(We have to work to win even if the team will struggle, as long as we show that we are continuously fighting and that we are not giving up on one another. We will do this for our teammates, seniors, and for coach Alvin and coach Hans.)
Coach Alvin Ocampo could not hide his emotions after their win against the Fighting Maroons. When asked about the next matchup, he said, “We’ll just bring it on. We will just play our best on the last game, regardless [of] who we will play against.”
As of press time, the ADMU versus FEU matchup winner has yet to be determined. The Green-and-White are looking to snap their championship drought in a game, against whoever will win the said decider, on Thursday, May 16, at the same venue.