The National University Booters opened their UAAP Season 77 men’s football campaign on a high note, after a successful penalty kick from team captain Paolo Salenga gave the Bulldogs the 1-0 victory over the returning Adamson University Booters, Sunday afternoon at the FEU-FERN football field in Quezon City.
The Bulldogs’ first and only successful goal came after a series of heartbreaking misses in the first eighty minutes of play.
The Falcons had possession for most of the early first half, but the Bulldogs soon wrested control of the game. NU’s Lawrence Colina finally struck one in around the 23rd minute, getting himself into position to send one flying past the Adamson goal keeper. The Bulldogs’ celebration however was cut short, after the lineman ruled Colina as having caught the ball offside. Salenga had the chance to break the deadlock around the 40th minute, finding himself with a free kick just beyond the penalty box, but the ball flew past both the Adamson wall and the post.
The second half saw the Bulldogs go all-out on the offensive, with forward Nico Macapal getting a series of golden opportunities to grab the coveted first goal, but found himself struggling to send one past Adamson goal keeper Carl Viray’s reach. The Falcons, who struggled to get their offense going throughout the meeting, experienced another series of setbacks around the 70 minute mark of the second half, after Bless Brian Jumo II and Ricardo Ortinez were both stretchered off in a ten-minute span.
With only eight minutes of regulation left, both teams remained scoreless. Things took a turn at around the 82nd minute, when Salenga found himself with a penalty kick charity after Adamson keeper Viray was called for the foul while trying to swipe the ball from the rushing NU attackers. Salenga managed to send the ball flying into the net to finally give the Bulldogs the much coveted first goal.
Adamson’s attackers continued to struggle to fire back on their end, unable to find a way through the NU midfield. The Bulldogs got a couple more attempts at goal, but none met the net.
The meeting marks the return of the Adamson University’s men’s football squad in the UAAP. The San Marcelino-based university last fielded a football squad a decade ago.