UAAP: Green Booters display heart in nail-biting 2-1 win over rival Blue Eagles

In their highly-anticipated rivalry matchup, the DLSU Green Booters toppled the ADMU Blue Eagles, 2-1, today, March 19, at the UP Diliman Football Pitch. Engatte Anoh and Rain del Rosario each contributed a goal, with the latter nailing in the winner in the dying seconds of the heart-stopping and heated affair that marked their last game of the first round of UAAP Season 85.


With the Green Booters’ last match ending in a 0-0 draw against the UP Fighting Maroons, the squad needed a victory against the ADMU Blue Eagles to bolster their Final Four hopes. Coming out the gates, Ateneo controlled possession of the game, which led to an early shot on target that was stopped by DLSU starting goalkeeper Enrico Mangaoang. As the game commenced, roars and cheers from fans of both the green and blue sides sparked the long-tenured rivalry, bringing the atmosphere to life. Succeedingly, the Taft-based squad looked to get the upper hand with their slow and steady game plan that contrasted Ateneo’s aggressive offense thus far.

In the 14th minute, both teams’ number 19s—La Salle’s Luis Henares and Ateneo’s Luard Abaa—got tangled up with each other, resulting in an unsuccessful DLSU free kick. This kicked off the story of the first half, showcasing both squads’ gritty defense. ADMU’s Dov Carino then inadvertently shoved La Salle’s del Rosario in an attempt to tackle the ball away from the opposition, giving the Katipunan-based squad a free kick that failed to go their way.

Not letting the Blue Eagles’ charge get to their heads, the Green Booters started steadily controlling the ball to set their offense. This led to free kicks and even a corner kick for the Green and White but, unfortunately, Ateneo goalkeeper Artuz Cezar made his mark by defending his side tremendously. As tenacious defense, near goals, and shots off target were being displayed in the hotly-contested matchup, the 33rd minute saw an exchange of words and a mini scuffle from both sides. While it only led to a missed Ateneo free kick with no calls from the sequence, it foreshadowed what was to come in the second half.

As intense defense and neck-and-neck play continued for the game, scoring attempts from both squads resulted in clearances as the DLSU Men’s Football team would not give any breathing room to the Blue Eagles. The first half ended in a draw, 0-0, even after three minutes of extra time was given.

Storybook ending

Drawing from the crowd’s energy, both teams got out of the halftime break with tenacity. La Salle pressed on the attack using their midfield mastery to retain possession. This tactic quickly bore fruit as an Anoh cross to Paolo Go pressured the Ateneo defense at the 46th-minute mark. With the physicality of the game increasing, the Taft-based squad continued to push for an opener as several inside looks from Go and Anoh were thwarted by the Ateneo backline.

The Katipunan-based squad was quick to counterattack off the DLSU misses, but Leo Maquiling’s playmaking opportunities were broken up by the La Salle backline. Ateneo’s Carino found a good shot into the box’s left side but Mangoang foiled the opportunity. Around the 61st minute, a hard foul by Kristian Cordero on Mikio Umilin caused another heated confrontation between the two teams that led to both Cordero and Christian Peñalosa getting reds and ejected from the contest.

Following the eventful exchange, La Salle marched on through the Ateneo defense. A 66th-minute header by Go almost broke the deadlock but missed. Exchanging possession, both squads brought fresher legs into the contest. Following the change in pace, Almohjili took possession and launched an excellent pass a few yards away from the midline that landed in prime position for Anoh to drill in the opener giving DLSU the lead 1-0.

Hungry to equalize, ADMU fought for possession and drove the ball to prime positions on the right wing. Getting a prime free kick opportunity in the 75th minute, Maquiling failed to find a play. The match intensified as Ateneo kept the majority of the ball’s possession. Playing to get a clean pass across to their towering striker Aguye, the Katipunan-based squad pushed the Green and White defense as they continued launching plays into the penalty area. A Maquiling strike at the 85’ mark could have also leveled the scoreline had it not sailed inches above the upper bar.

Seeing the Ateneo threat, the Green Spikers’ defense tensed up and successfully challenged the opposition’s right wing oriented attack. But Ateneo snuck in a dangerous cross, as both JP Bengay and Roberto Cruel prevented Aguye from tapping the ball in for the equalizer. Ateneo continued the offensive barrage but the La Salle backbone stayed steadfast.

At the onset of injury time, Ateneo went aggressive into the box, which forced Umilin to commit a handball infraction and gifted Ateneo a penalty opportunity that Maquiling iced to equalize the game, 1-all.

Not looking to settle for a draw, the La Salle offense took back control of the game. Anoh and Umilin were both given good looks for a winner but both shots failed to locate the back of the net. Affording more opportunities at the end of injury time, a corner kick from rookie midfielder Gabe Suarez found its way inside the box as Del Rosario rose above Ateneo’s defense to seal the game with a header into the goal’s left side, 2-1.

DLSU goalkeeper Mangaoang was ecstatic to play his first La Salle-Ateneo rivalry game as he expressed, “It was so exciting, I’m so happy we got the three points and I’m looking forward to the second round.” With the victory, he and the rest of the squad will move on to the second round of UAAP Season 85 Men’s Football Tournament currently sitting in the Final Four picture.

Koby del Rosario

By Koby del Rosario

Joaquin Constantino

By Joaquin Constantino

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