There will be a new UAAP Men’s Football Champion in Season 80
Conrado Dimacali’s extra time goal proved to be the decider as the University of Santo Tomas Golden Booters nullified Jarvey Gayoso and the rest of the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles towards a 1-0 victory Thursday afternoon at the historic Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
It will be UST’s first finals appearance since Season 74 and they will try to win their first championship since Season 69.
“For the players, deserving sila na maglaro sa Finals kasi ginawa nila lahat kanina. They didn’t give up. They didn’t give in since first half,” said UST coach Marjo Allado after his side finally overcame their Final Four hump.
Following a goalless first half, the two schools upped the ante upon their return for the second period. Gayoso and Julian Roxas forced routine stops from Golden Booters goalkeeper Zaldy Abraham Jr. Ateneo then almost broke the deadlock halfway through the period but Jeremiah Rocha’s tap-in was ruled out because of offside.
At the other end, UST struggled to threaten Ateneo goalkeeper Jae Arcilla’s goal. Every set-piece for the Golden Booters was easily repelled by the Blue Eagles backline. Only veteran striker Steven Anotado had a sniff at goal but the attempt was straight at Arcilla.
It was in the final minute of first half extra time when the deadlock was finally broken. Substitute UST midfielder Dimacali took advantage of a scramble inside the Ateneo box and headed the ball into the goal to send the Golden Booters into dreamland.
The Blue Eagles were stunned. Time ticked on but the Katipunan school ran out of ideas on how to break down the tight UST defense. Renko Gaudiel tried his luck with a free kick outside the Golden Booters box but his attempt was painfully denied by the crossbar.
“Hindi pa tapos yung assigment namin. May championship pa. Nakapanalo lang kami ng semis. Basta importante dito is championship. Seven players ang mag-graduate sa amin ngayon so para ito sa kanila,” added Allado.
On the other side, Sam Lim, Koko Gaudiel, Paolo Allam, and Michael Castillo played their final game for Ateneo. Lim still has a year of eligibility left but decided to forego it.
In the end, it was the Espana school’s day to celebrate as they now advance to the Finals against De La Salle University or University of the Philippines. That game shall be played on May 3, 3:00 PM at Rizal Memorial.
“Let’s see muna kung sino mananalo, kung UP or La Salle. I know UP is a strong team, kumpleto pero hindi mo kayang pabayaan ang La Salle kasi ang La Salle like sa free kicks may mga strikers din sila… Check lang namin muna,” concluded Allado.