Another San Beda squad has completed a redemption season, rewriting the history books in the process.
The San Beda College Red Booters have cemented their legacy as the best seniors’ football team in the NCAA after upending the College of Saint Benilde Blazers in extra time, 1-0, to claim a record-breaking 22nd championship, Tuesday afternoon at the historic Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
Fittingly, the Mendiola squad pulled off the win against the sister school of erstwhile fellow record-holders De La Salle University Green Booters.
“Ang objective lang namin ay hindi naman to win every game. Kung may mga lapses, just improve sa [following] game,” San Beda head coach Nieboy Pedimonte shared. “Hindi namin inisip yung resulta ng first round, nung second round. Ang importante is yung may matutunan tayo.”
The Red Booters had to go through the ringer, despite starting the match on the right foot.
Benilde’s defense, particularly on the right wing, did well enough to deny the white-shirts’ run on that flank. Defender Andre Roa stood defiant for the next-door Blazers in that first half.
The green-shirts were not devoid of chances, but Bedan goalkeeper Ralph Datoy denied Val Calvo’s attempts.
In the second half, the Taft squad dominated the Red Booters with several incursions into the box. Carmelo Genco had the best chance for the Blazers to break the deadlock near the 80th minute, but his header went wide.
San Beda had the final say in the second half added time; nonetheless, the whistle to end the regulation was sounded, signalling the need for extra time.
Confident that his players would deliver when it mattered, the young mentor challenged the Red Booters to continue fighting despite the goalless regulation time and first period of extra time.
“Wala lang bibigay. Alam natin ang magiging resulta,” he shared. “Tinrabaho natin yan, nagtrabaho rin sila. Hindi tayo puwedeng bumigay.”
The Red Booters responded to the challenge, and with Connor Tacagni finding the back of the net, they eventually snared their 22nd title.
In the extension, the Red Booters showed their intentions of finishing the season. Several chances from just went begging, but the pressure was there.
Finally, in the 114th minute, Filipino-British booter Tacagni received a pass from the back, controlled the ball past the defense, and dribbled it towards the goal. The burly striker then lobbed the ball from outside the box and over Benilde’s keeper John Vicente for the winning goal.
“I was just trying to get into the box but it went in. I guess I was a little bit lucky,” Tacagni shared.
Earlier in the day, last year’s champions Arellano University dispatched Lyceum of the Philippines University, 4-0, to claim third place.
Charles Gamutan completed a hat trick in the 79th minute to lift the Chiefs to the win. The forward earlier had scored at the 28th and 60th minutes. Spencer Galasa plucked the other goal in the 53rd minute.