UST Golden Booters senior AJ Pasion has a knack for late-game goals.
And the UST senior did it once more, as the last year’s finalists denied the Far Eastern University Tamaraws the three points, but instead plucked his team’s third straight draw, 2-2, Thursday morning at the Far Eastern University Diliman Football Field.
The Espana-based side started on the right foot as several incursions into their attacking third produced the game’s initial goal. Conrado Dimacali put UST in the lead the 28th minute after last year’s semifinals hero for the Tigers chipped the ball into the bag past FEU keeper Dave Parac.
Unfortunately for UST, Dimacali fell down and could not recover from the collision as he suffered from a right knee injury.
However, the Tigers continued to hold on the advantage and even had chances to pad on the Dimacali goal, only they could not finish these attacks and FEU also tightened up their defense.
It was a different second half as the Tamaraws hastened the pace and took several opportunities to score in transition. Eventually, captain Renz Saldivar equalized after a good run into the box and fired a shot to reigning Best Goalkeeper Zaldy Abraham’s left side.
It was a tussle for the go-ahead goal with the Tigers taking the more productive shots. Nonetheless, the Tamaraws once again breached the UST defense as rookie and last year’s juniors MVP Gio Pabualan put them ahead 2-1 on another transition attack.
The Tigers tried their might to rescue a point only for FEU to foil the attacks and almost got the insurance goal off skipper Saldivar.
After missed chances on the set pieces, Pasion shot a screamer that brought the squad into a frenzied celebration and giving head coach Marjo Allado a breather seconds before the referee blew his whistle to end the match.
Allado expressed his relief at the conclusion of the contest. “For three games, draw,” he said. “But it is okay to get these results kaysa naman mag-drop kami ng three points against strong teams like [National University] and FEU.
“Actually we dominated the first half. Pero nag-iba yung rhythm ng laronung naka-score yung FEU nung first half,” the UST lifer assessed.
The long-time mentor knew they need to improve their offense as they are in a sort of slump after blasting the De La Salle University in their season debut. “Kailangan naming ayusin yung sa scoring,” he admitted.
The Golden Booters (6 pts) will face the Ateneo De Manila University on next Thursday, March 7 at 3 p.m. On their part, the Tamaraws (5 pts) will battle NU earlier that day at 1 p.m. Both matches will still be held at the same Diliman pitch.
FEU XI: Parac (GK), Saldivar (C), Canonigo, Darapan, Forrosuelo, Frigillano, Mendoza, Monterona, Pabualan, Rey, Salilig.
UST XI: Abraham (GK), De Castro (C), Anotado, Benecio, Dimacali, Fuchigami, Gumban, Orale, Pasion, Rivera, Villanueva.