UAAP: Green Booters settle for 1-all draw against rival Blue Eagles, remain second heading into Final Four

The DLSU Green Booters were unable to claim the first seed as they drew against the ADMU Blue Eagles, 1-1, in the final game of the elimination round last Thursday, May 4, at the UP Diliman Football Field.

The result cemented La Salle’s position as second in the ranks, finishing with a total of 20 points from six wins, three draws, and three losses in the elimination round. Leveled with Ateneo on points, DLSU’s lesser goal difference saw them come short of reclaiming the top spot.

Rain del Rosario notched the only goal of the game for the Taft-based squad with a glancing header to equalize right after Lorenzo Lucindo opened the scoring with his own bullet of a header for the team from Katipunan.

Piling on the pressure

With the coveted top spot on the line, both teams came out cautious to start the match as the first 10 minutes passed without a clear-cut chance from either side. The first La Salle threat emerged in the 11th minute when Green Booters winger Mikio Umilin ran near the baseline and cut the ball back to striker Engatte Anoh, whose shot was just deflected and went wide of the left post.

Ateneo was then rewarded with a corner that was taken by Blue Eagles winger Andy Roxas. The curling ball was fortunately parried away by DLSU goalkeeper Mig Brosoto for another corner. However, the team from Katipunan finally drew first blood in the 16th minute when A. Roxas’ swung in a dangerous ball, met by high-flying Ateneo center back Lucindo for a strong header that found the back of the net to give the defending champs a 1-0 advantage.

The Green Booters recovered quickly and had a chance to erase the deficit in the 21st minute after DLSU midfielder Mohammad Almohjili curled in a pinpoint cross that found Anoh in the middle of the opposing box. Unfortunately, the La Salle striker was unable to control the pass in time to take a shot. The Green and White did not have to wait long for the next big opportunity as Almohjili delivered a freekick into the box. Center back del Rosario was able to rise high enough to beat Blue Eagles goalie Artuz Cezar to the ball, scoring with the back of his head to equalize in the 24th minute.

La Salle was the dominant side for the rest of the first half, continuously working their way into the final third. The team from Taft looked to finally take the lead in the 29th minute when midfielder Christian Peñalosa swung in a curling cross that del Rosario struck cleanly but straight at Cezar, who easily caught the shot. The Green Booters continued to look threatening on set pieces—including a corner by Almohjili in the 36th minute which was pushed away by Cezar straight toward DLSU center back and captain Manuel Cruel who unfortunately hit the volley past the crossbar.

La Salle’s best chance to go ahead came in the 42nd minute as Umilin was able to dribble his way past three defenders near the baseline and subsequently take a shot that was blocked by a charging Cezar. The deflected ball found Anoh in front of the goal but his effort was hit straight at Lucindo for a well-positioned block to end the threat. Although the Green Booters continued to find their way into the Blue Eagles’ box, there were no real chances to score for the rest of the period as the first half ended in a 1-all draw.

Hitting a brick wall

The team from Taft continued to control the pace of the game as the second half commenced. La Salle looked to finally take the lead in the 59th minute as forward Vin Dela Cruz hit a driven shot from outside the box that was just deflected by Cezar with a low, strong right hand.

A contentious moment occurred in the 66th minute in Ateneo’s box as Umilin dribbled left and quickly cut the ball toward his other foot and appeared to be taken down by the Ateneo fullback. The challenge was deemed fair by the match officials, with the defender having made contact with the ball first. 

Despite the Green Booters dominating possession, the most significant opportunity of the second half was created by the Blue Eagles in the 70th minute as A. Roxas found the gap in La Salle’s defense to get a one-on-one with Brosoto, but the succeeding strike was wide of the left post.

The Green and White utilized the left wing to progress the ball up the pitch as the trio of Almohjili, Umilin, and Peñalosa found success in stringing passes together. Unfortunately, the final ball was lacking as each attack was thwarted before it reached the strikers. 

DLSU’s attack finally ran out of gas in added time as Ateneo possessed most of the attacking threat in the final seven minutes. The Green Booters largely defended for the rest of the match as the second half concluded with neither side finding the back of the net.

La Salle Coach Hans-Peter Smit did not dwell on the disappointing result and chose to look at the task ahead, expressing, “At least, we were able to safeguard our position. We just have to prepare ourselves for the semis and play our best. We will see what happens on May 11th.” 

While the DLSU Green Booters were unable to secure a more favorable matchup against the UST Growling Tigers—whom they beat twice in the competition—La Salle will face the third-seeded FEU Tamaraws in the Semifinals at 4:30 pm on May 11 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium for a place in the Finals. After conceding three goals in each of their elimination round matches to the squad from Diliman, the DLSU Men’s Football Team will look to secure their most crucial fixture yet.

Aren Reyes

By Aren Reyes

Leave a Reply