The first weekend of UAAP football in 2015 has seen six action-filled matches in both divisions. The plot continues to thicken in this year’s competition and along with it comes interesting side stories week in week out. These paint the full picture a lot better as they shed light on some matters concerning the protagonists.
Without further ado, we give you the top five stories from this past weekend’s UAAP football tournament.
Smit blasts officiating in 2-1 loss to FEU
“Officials screwed up,” cried La Salle coach Hans Peter Smit. The tenured mentor vented his frustration with the refereeing decisions in La Salle’s 2-1 defeat to FEU Saturday afternoon.
The Lady Tamaraws controlled much of the game after converting two goals inside 32 minutes. DLSU scored a goal, but Smit was livid in the end when a couple of bad decisions spoiled his team’s chances of claiming an equalizer.
Down by one, La Salle was a victim of two wrong decisions according to Smit. One was a non-call on an apparent handball committed by a Lady Tamaraw inside the box that came a couple of minutes before time. In the ensuing possession, FEU’s attacking sequence came to an end when DLSU keeper Inna Palacios got hold of the ball. The referee consulted his linesman who identified foul play, resulting in a free kick to FEU. “The referee was much closer to the ball and he uses his assistant, who’s all the way out there. Who has the better angle? The referee,” Smit voiced.
“How do you expect to be respected when you guys are supposed to be professionals but you take it against personal issues,” the DLSU coach, who has never been shy of expressing his sentiments, lamented.
Condat earns coach’s praise, sets sights on winning starting role
With UP playing clinical football that led to identical 6-0 wins in their last two games, rotation is bound to accommodate playing time for footballers usually on the bench. Maroon winger James Condat took advantage of the break. In return, he received a huge boost after being praised by coach Anto Gonzales following his notable performance against the Red Warriors. The substitute was singled out by Gonzales, who may be considering to include Condat in his plans for UP’s next game.
The inspired winger helped the Maroons in setting up attacks upon his arrival and also recovered on defense to prevent UE from breaching their goal. Overall, he was pleased with his game. “Iyong gusto kong gawin noong training, nagawa ko [sa game].” Like most players, Condat relishes making to the starting lineup. Asked what it would take to get there, the Isko said, “Kailangan ko ulit mag step up pa, especially sa stamina and consistency. Mabawasan ‘yung errors as pitch.”
Gonzales welcomes this positive development as he seeks to tweak his lineup following the dismissal of left back Albert Yatco, who will miss the marquee match against FEU next Thursday. Surely, it opens a chance for Condat or anyone else in UP’s talented pool of footballers to shine.
FEU returns to action by slaughtering Adamson
Out of this round’s 19 goals in men’s football this past weekend, nine of them came from last year’s champions, the FEU Tamaraws who trampled Adamson 9-1. The green-and-gold was bannered by captain Eric Giganto and Jhan Jhan Melliza who combined for six of the nine in the Sunday afternoon game.
They are starting to look like the monsters of last year and welcomed back the returning Falcons with an eight-goal triumph. The Tamaraws struck two birds with one stone as they got to win and pad their goal difference, which may prove vital in an event of a tie come Final Four.
Asst. coach Dexter Chio told us that it was their focus and sacrifice that made the difference, “nag focus kami sa game namin last year maibalik yung passing namin, nagsakripisyo kami na hindi umuwi noong Christmas para lang mapakita namin yung teamwork namin at tsaka na may pride kami.”
Adamson, on the other hand, suffered their second straight lopsided setback. Although not much of a surprise, the results against UP and FEU may bother the Falcons, who managed to lose narrowly in their four games. Growth pains are perhaps starting to keep the boys from San Marcelino off the pace.
Lady Maroons enjoying dream start after three games
Six goals scored, zero goals conceded, three games played.
The UP Lady Maroons are looking invincible in this year’s UAAP women’s football tournament. Solid on both offense and defense, the Iskas are starting to build a winning identity under coach Anto Gonzales.
Their massive 4-0 win against UST effectively eliminates any doubt in the Lady Maroons. Heavily tested in their first two games against Ateneo and FEU, UP strung together a neat overall performance to take their third straight win.
On offense, the Lady Maroons are piloted by the returning national team player Cristina de los Reyes. Her impact has helped changed UP’s reputation into title contenders and are now favorites to reach the finals. The likes of Mary Obra, Kali Navea-Huff and Christille Ardiente also make it difficult for opposing defenses to lock the potent UP offense down.
Another big part of UP’s success this season has been their long standing record of keeping a clean sheet. Opponents tried but failed in scoring against the Iskas, who even had the luxury of playing three goalkeepers. First choice keeper AJ Javier weathered the storm in the opening two games. Jermaine Choa Peck and Nicole Adlawan got the chance to strut their skills versus UST. Marie Navea-Huff is also a key cog in UP’s backline that is becoming more compact than ever before.
Interesting mid table situation sets up exciting midweek games
Sunday saw FEU emphatically return to winning ways, NU extended their victorious streak while rivals La Salle and Ateneo shared points. This array of results arranges a pair of mouth-watering clashes tomorrow. The games will be televised live on ABS-CBN Sports+Action starting at 1PM.
La Salle will test NU in the first game of the double header. The Green-and-White XI won against the Bulldogs in all of their previous UAAP encounters. But that record may soon vanish.
In their third season of fielding a team in the league, NU has risen from minnows to genuine title contenders. They are riding on a two-game winning streak and have picked up a string of good results against top teams. Their Final Four bid will be challenged in facing DLSU which remains unbeaten after five matches this season.
A win for La Salle would catapult them back to the summit, possibly as high as second place. A draw would keep NU inside the Top Four, while a Bulldogs win would give them a chance to not only keep La Salle partially away from a semifinal spot, but it could also favorably displace NU to as high as second seed.
Following that will be tomorrow’s main event. FEU will virtually host Ateneo in a battle of the last two seasons’ champions at FEU-Diliman. The Tamaraws are currently a point behind Ateneo, meaning only a win will be enough to secure second seed ahead of what could be a battle for first place against UP next Thursday.
The Blue Booters will be eager to foil that with a win, which would permit them to go ahead of UP. With an easier game in the seventh round of games against the young Adamson team, the Katipunan squad will fancy their shot in claiming the number one seed at the culmination of the elimination phase’s first half. A draw would not be too bad for Ateneo as well, for it would keep them in the top three at least.
The season is still young and many things are bound to happen. Nonetheless, these two games will definitely be important in more ways than one. As the top five teams are only separated by four points, a win by any of them against the other may spell the difference of making it to the semifinals and otherwise.