You can’t change the past, but you sure can control your present to build a bright future
The De La Salle University Green Archers’ road to redemption was paved with a 3-1 victory over last season’s finalists Far Eastern University Tamaraws, Thursday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
“Like I told other guys before, this is an entirely different team from last year,” said La Salle head coach Hans-Peter Smit after his players got their first win of the UAAP Season 80 Men’s Football Tournament.
Any game between both schools is always something that fans looked forward to once the schedule comes out. It should come as no surprise that the two squads sought to get an early goal right from kickoff.
It was the Tamaraws who broke the deadlock, thanks to some fine individual skill from veteran winger Rico Andes. The left-winger slalomed his way past the Green Archers defense and shot past goalie Paeng De Guzman for the opener in the 21st minute.
La Salle struggled to react to Andes’ goal, and the Tamaraws’ star man almost got his second of the match if not for a good save from De Guzman. FEU had La Salle in their sights, but that was set to change 10 minutes before halftime.
Mathew Custodio — La Salle’s former blue-chip rookie who failed to score last season — finally broke his psychological hump and leveled the scores for the Green Archers. The sophomore timed his run well to break FEU’s offside trap and squeezed a shot over Tamaraws goalie Rey Joyel in the 35th minute.
With the scores level at halftime, both teams came out aggressively to kickstart the second period. FEU bombarded De Guzman’s goal, although Season 77’s Best Goalkeeper easily caught attempts by Donggyu Jung and Andes.
At the other end of the pitch, Custodio played with renewed intensity as he constantly pressured the Tamaraws’ backline. One instance saw the sophomore unleash a fine cross to his strike partner Jose Alegre, whose shot was brilliantly parried away by Joyel.
And then came La Salle’s cavalry. With less than 15 minutes left on the clock, the Green Archers found a way to score two quick-fire goals to sink the Tamaraws. Substitute striker Christopher Lawless eluded the Tamaraws defense and saw his shot deflected into goal in the 77th minute.
“It’s always back to last year. Every single detail was always back to last year. At least now (the players) are a little more matured. As you can see now they play a lot better. Like I said, hopefully it drags on all the way until the end,” added Smit.
The game was well and truly sealed a minute later when Yoshihiro Koizumu’s strike went past Joyel. The Green Archers emerged 3-1 winners over the Tamaraws, who suffered their second straight loss this season.
“It’s just the first game but it’s a good thing (it was) against FEU. FEU is FEU. They’re always on top. It’s a big boost for (the players) to get a win over a strong team. Again, makulit ako, but it’s just the first game,” concluded Smit.
On February 11, La Salle hope to rise to 2-0 in the standings against the Adamson University at 1:30 PM, while FEU target to tally in the win column versus the University of the East afterwards at 4:00 PM. Both games will be held at Rizal Memorial.