Powered by a hat trick from Eric Giganto, last year’s champions the Far Eastern University Tamaraws opened their title defense in fearsome fashion, trouncing the University of Santo Tomas Golden Booters, 7-4, Sunday afternoon at the FEU-FERN football field.
The Tamaraws’ first goal came around the 11th minute, after Giganto managed to send one flying past the UST keeper, after rebounding a missed penalty kick from teammate Arnel Amita to put the defending champs up by one. Another goal came for the Tamaraws at around the 15th minute, after Michael Menzi managed to connect with a header to push the score to 2-0. A goal from Amita at around the 29th minute put the Tamaraws up by 3-0 with only less than half an hour of play.
Jean Mari Clarino had the chance to finally get things going for the booters in España at around the 23rd minute, after Marvin Bricenio found him for the header, but the ball sailed past the net. Clarino eventually managed to get it started for UST, finally hitting the net during a penalty kick. But the Tamaraws proved hungry for another goal, after Giganto sent one into the net after receiving the assist from Amita, putting the Tamaraws up by three, 4-1, just as the 45th minute expired.
Another goal from Giganto came in the 50th minute, as he found himself unchecked at the corner beyond the penalty box to hit his second goal. Up 5-1, the Tamaraws continued going all out on the attack, with the UST keeper struggling to hold the fort.
Things suddenly looked bright for the Golden Booters at the 70 minute mark, after Clarino managed to score on the penalty kick to push the score to 5-2. Five minutes later, Steven Anotado managed to hit one from beyond the penalty box to trim the score to 5-3, giving UST a lease on life.
But FEU’s Jesus Joaquin Melliza, last season’s best midfielder immediately stifled the UST surge, sinking one at the other end after finding himself one-on-one with the UST keeper, John Rey Catalino to push FEU up 6-3.
UST’s Gabriel Alcantara however was not sullied, getting past the FEU defense to bag his first goal at around the 79th minute, pushing the score to 6-4.
Both squads had several attempts in the remaining minutes, but none yielded goals. The score still stood at 6-4 entering injury time.
Amita was the one who put the icing on the cake for the Tamaraws, nailing one last goal shortly before the end of injury time.