Ateneo High School leaned on the steady hands of goalkeeper Artuz Cezar to deny Far Eastern University-Diliman a first round sweep in the UAAP Season 82 High School Boys’ Football Tournament with a goalless draw, Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The Blue Eaglets stayed in second place with seven points but closed the gap with the league-leading Baby Tamaraws, who stopped at 10 points off three wins and this stalemate.
After Eric Laurel missed a wide-open shot off an Ace Amita pass, the defending nine-time champions tried to notch a winner. But Cezar stopped two shots in additional time to keep the score at 0-0 up to the final whistle.
“Artuz is a very experienced goalkeeper,” Ateneo head coach Dodjie Locsin praised about the graduating keeper. “In fact, that is one of our strengths. I have never seen a goalkeeper who played like that for the past three years.”
The Blue Eaglets even had their first share of chances in the second half, with Luard Abaa and Austin Basconcillo. FEU keeper Lance Bencio then had to make crucial stops himself to force the draw.
“I guess the team is really motivated. They have beaten [FEU] last year, so we used it as a fuel for them. We always believe that training is just twenty-percent, eighty-percent is all mental,” Locsin added.
On the other hand, University of Santo Tomas leapfrogged De La Salle-Zobel in the standings after a tight 2-1 victory to close the first round.
Nam Gwi Beon built on their first point of the season after scoring the winner in the 48th minute. The striker scored on a follow-up after La Salle keeper Enrico Mangaoang spilled the initial save.
Adrian Merina knotted the scoreline at 1-all for the Junior Archers before the halftime break. That negated a defensive lapse that led to the Junior Golden Booters’ early advantage off Paul Tuazon at the 17th-minute.
La Salle slid to last place with three points off a lone win against three defeats.
Second round will to start on Wednesday at the same venue.