This time last year, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles were beaten in the post-season.
There was no such heartbreak this time around. The Blue Eagles prevailed 1-0 over the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in the UAAP Season 81 Men’s Football Tournament Final Four, Thursday evening at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
Ateneo’s reward is a trip to the finals against archrivals De La Salle University. It is the first time the eternal rivals face each other for the championship since Season 68, when the Blue Eagles won.
“The players adjusted (in the game). In the second half, we dominated talaga the possession. We’re unlucky lang. We had a lot of chances na hindi namin na-convert. At least we got this win. Yun talaga yung importante,” said Ateneo coach Jay Pee Merida.
It was a tense affair right from kick-off, but the Blue Eagles drew first blood in the 70th minute. Ateneo star forward Jarvey Gayoso spun around FEU captain Poi Saldivar and performed a fine finish to hand the Katipunan-based school the lead.
“Dun sa effort talaga (ni Jarvey), there’s no angle. Talagang trinabaho niya (para) makuha namin tong semis na to,” added the two-time champion mentor.
Ateneo should have secured the win minutes later when Rupert Baña was through on goal, only for the attempt to go straight to FEU goalie Dave Parac’s hands. Later, midfielder Julian Roxas also broke through, but the Tamaraws defense delayed his run and let the ball sail away.
FEU tried hard to break down the stingy Ateneo defense, but to no avail. The Blue Eagles easily repelled everything the Tamaraws threw at them. The game then took a nasty turn when substitute Gilbert Mendoza, Jr. fouled Colin Mercado off the ball and got sent off for his actions.
The Morayta-based school had a free kick deep in added time, but Ateneo keeper Jae Arcilla caught Gio Pabualan’s delivery.
Ultimately, Gayoso’s strike was enough, as the Blue Eagles set up a date against the Green Archers for all the marbles on May 16, 2019, 4:30 PM at the same venue.
ADMU XI: Arcilla (GK), Baña, Gayoso, Grierson, Herrera, Maniquis, Mercado, Nacional, Poe, Rocha, Roxas ©.
FEU XI: Bacara, Canonigo, Decena, Forrosuelo, Frigillano, Kim, Monterona, Parac (GK), Rey, Saldivar (GK), Salilig.