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Tiebreaker Times


Despite being dethroned, Szy Mercado, Ateneo still hold heads up high

Ateneo de Manila University expressed regret over its failure to mount a successful title defense for the first time since Season 68, following a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Far Eastern University in the final of the UAAP Season 85 Men’s Football Tournament last Thursday.

The Blue Eagles entered the match as favorites, having finished first in the elimination round and defeated FEU twice earlier in the season. However, the Tamaraws dominated the first half, securing a two-goal lead and maintaining their advantage until the end.

“I feel sad,” said Ateneo forward Leo Maquiling. “Obviously, I feel sad after the game because in the first half, we were down 2-0. In the second half, we were able to score. We kept on fighting until the last minute but sayang.”

Throughout the season, the Blue Eagles showcased their resilience as a formidable team. Under coach JP Merida, Ateneo has consistently been difficult to score against, especially after taking the lead.

Unfortunately, the Blue Eagles made some uncharacteristic errors against the Tamaraws, which their opponents capitalized on. This defeat was Ateneo’s most significant setback this year and it occurred at the worst possible moment.

UAAP85-MFB-Champions-1st-Runner-Up-Ateneo-7806119 Despite being dethroned, Szy Mercado, Ateneo still hold heads up high ADMU Football News UAAP  - philippine sports news“For me, I think this game was not for us. We need to accept this defeat. We need to work for the next season to improve and to bounce back from what happened in this game,” said Merida. “We will try to bounce back sa nangyari this past season.”

“I think bilog lang talaga yung bola. FEU wanted it more than us kaya I think FEU got the championship,” said Artuz Cezar, who was given the Best Goalkeeper award this season because of seven clean sheets.

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Although the season ended in an anticlimactic manner for the Blue Eagles, they will have an intact team for Season 86, with only four players not returning.

One of the players who will not be back next year is captain Szy Mercado, who led the team to its closest title defense in 17 years. While this loss is difficult to accept, it can serve as a catalyst for a more successful campaign in the future.

“We weren’t favorites coming into the season. I didn’t even expect to reach the finals honestly but really proud of the boys, really proud of what we achieved,” said Mercado.

“I’m happy because the heart was there. We were trying to win. Unfortunately, we were unlucky. I just said that I’m really happy with what we achieved. I didn’t expect to reach the finals. So let’s be proud of what we have achieved and make sure that we win next year again.”

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