Following the University of Santo Tomas Golden Booters’ win earlier in the day, only a victory would do for the De La Salle University Green Archers if they wanted to continue their bid to enter the UAAP Season 81 Men’s Football Tournament post-season.
Notwithstanding an early scare, the Green Archers managed to fend off the National University Bulldogs, 3-1, Thursday afternoon at the Far Eastern University-Diliman turf in Quezon City.
The result elevates La Salle to 22 points and allows the three-time champions to rise to third in the standings at the expense of University of the Philippines and UST who have 20 points each. On the other hand, NU is still at 7th place with 10 points.
“We’re pressured to win today for us to still have a chance to enter the Final Four. Siyempre alarming yung nangyari, one attack tapos na score-an kami, (but) good thing (the players) regained composure (and) by the end of the halftime naka-secure kami ng goal,” explained La Salle coach Alvin Ocampo.
NU had a dream start to the game when it managed to score a goal against the run of play. La Salle missed chance after chance and it conceded at the 25th minute after Joobin Park rebounded his teammate Joshua Broce’s initial effort into the net.
Despite the setback, the Green Archers simply played their game and piled the pressure on the Bulldogs. The Green and White’s efforts paid off five minutes from the halftime break thanks to Mikio Umilin who capitalized on an error from NU goalie Christian Betanio to draw one back for the Taft-based school.
La Salle then carried its momentum from Umilin’s equalizer into the second half. In fact, they found a way to clinch the lead just five minutes after the restart. When the referee spotted a handball inside the NU box, captain Jed Diamante stepped up to take the spot-kick and the fourth-year player coolly slotted the ball home.
Not content with a one-goal lead, La Salle continued to bombard the NU backline in search for the safety cushion. It may have arrived at the first minute of stoppage time but substitutes Xavi Zubiri and Alfonso Montelibano’s neat combination play to let the latter score past Betanio was the icing on the Green Archers’ cake.
Both schools shall end the elimination round on May 2, 2019, at FEU-Diliman. La Salle (22 points) faces FEU at 1:30 PM while NU (10 points) goes up against University of Santo Tomas afterward at 3:30 PM.