The DLSU Green Booters and the FEU Tamaraws played out a hard fought stalemate, 1-1, to open their respective UAAP Season 82 football campaigns.
La Salle fought back from an early 1-0 deficit, as team captain Jed Diamante converted a penalty in the 87th minute to pull his side level. The Green-and-White struggled in the first period, but eventually took control in the second half to earn a point.
The matchday one of UAAP Season 82 started cautiously for both the DLSU Green Booters and the FEU Tamaraws. The sides jostled for possession in the midfield during the early stages of the match with neither side giving an inch.
The first shot on target came in the seventh minute for FEU. Star-man Gio Pabuhalan unleashed a left-footed strike from outside the box, but rookie keeper Jason Blanco saved the shot comfortably.
The Tamaraws grew into the match as the game went on. The first goal of the match came in the 13th minute for the Green-and-Gold after Martini Rey let loose a speculative volley from thirty yards out which caught Blanco off his line.
The Green-and-White struggled to deal with FEU’s long balls over the top, but the Tamaraws failed to take their opportunities. At the 19’ mark, Mateo Alegre looked to get the Lasallians back into the game as he drove down the right wing to register his side’s first shot on target, but with no goal to show for.
The game continued with chances few and far in between as the FEU centerbacks successfully marshaled DLSU’s new talisman, Isaac Anoh.
The Booters failed to convert their best chance of the half in the 37th minute as FEU keeper Dave Parac misjudged a cross into the box from a Mikio Umilin corner. The net was left open, but Anoh’s volley squeaked over the open goal after a scramble in the box.
The first half ended with the Green-and-White trailing the Tamaraws, 1-0.
The Green Booters came into the second half of the game looking to find an equalizer with several early attempts at the goal.
At the 48’ mark, Anoh went down after trying to make it past FEU’s strong defensive line, opening the opportunity for Diamante to take a free kick. The midfielder grounded a through ball for French Talaroc, who attempted a shot but missed.
The early opportunities of the Green Booters seemed to have boosted the team’s morale, as they began to make stronger plays on both sides of the field—chasing opportunities to score, fancying passes down the flank, and keeping the Tamaraws at bay.
Another chance to equalize the game came at the 60th minute for DLSU; Ealhwine Dalam took a corner kick that found space on the field in front of Mauro Acot, who volleyed the ball merely inches over the net.
The stalemate continued, with both teams continuously proving their strength on both sides of the field. The Tamaraws denied multiple chances for the Green-and-White to score. At the 71st minute, FEU thought that they had doubled their lead after striking an open shot that flew straight into the net, but the play was deemed offside.
Toward the final minutes of the game, the Lasallians dominated possession and played low on the field, continuously trying to find that equalizer, until finally, they found it. At the 85’ mark, Dalam was brought down inside the box, leading to a penalty kick. Two minutes later, it was Diamante who stood on the line for the Green Booters, burying a shot that found the back of the net to bring the game to a tie, 1-1.
The intensity of the game did not die down and only heightened when the players from both teams got into a scuffle with one another, resulting in a yellow card for FEU’s Gansmari Antipuesto.
With six minutes of stoppage time granted, both teams were determined to take the lead with what was left on the clock. Both teams proceeded to create good chances to score, hoping to bring their respective teams to victory, but to no avail. With only seconds remaining in the game, Dalam found a good opening to take the lead. He made a cross, but failed to find John Lagura for the shot.The ball instead fell into the hands of FEU’s goalkeeper Parac to end the game at a stalemate, 1-1.
The Green Booters looked more settled and aggressive in the second half, enabling them to salvage the game in the final moments. When asked about what changed, Diamante shared that, “We were able to adjust in the second half. Our players [understood] their responsibilities better. Everyone worked hard in defense and attack, and [luckily] we were able to get the goal.”
As captain, Diamante led by example when he put away the penalty which drew his side level. “There was no other way to end that scenario in my mind. I had to score. I couldn’t let the University down as the chance was given to us,” he expressed.
The DLSU Green Booters will look for their first win of the season when they go up against the AdU Soaring Falcons on Sunday, March 8, at 4 pm at the same venue.