The Ateneo Blue Eagles’ win over the Adamson Falcons last February 20, 2016 (Saturday) was a relief for those involved from Katipunan. It was the Blue Eagles’ first win in this UAAP Season 78 Men’s Football Tournament, after two straight losses against Season 77 finalists Far Eastern University Tamaraws and archrivals De La Salle University Green Archers.
It was a good win for one of the captains of Ateneo, Carlo Liay, due to how hard he feels his team works. Liay said, “It was just really frustrating the first two games we lost but you have to consider also those were two very tough games and we needed this win. Good for the team. Good for the confidence of the team. Hopefully it’s gonna be continuous momentum for us.”
If there was one thing Liay felt was present for the Blue Eagles in their game against FEU, it was teamwork. “It was more efficient and functional to the wings. And the heart of the players. Even after first half we couldn’t score, at the half we were like ‘hey guys kaya yan, tiwala lang’, and then we kept on going”, expounded Liay.
Adamson held Ateneo goalless in the first half. Frustration inevitably crept on the Blue Eagles and words from head coach JP Merida were needed to calm them down. Liay narrated, “Coach said: ‘If you guys don’t play as a team, that’s gonna be our biggest limit this season.’ So if you noticed in the second half, the passing was better, the movements were better. Everything was going good and we just realized talaga na our strength it’s on the teamwork and not individually.”
Liay felt that the Blue Eagles needed to start games better. “It took us one half to realize what we needed to do. If we can learn how to start strong right away, that would be a great tool for us this season.” The Blue Eagles definitely need to improve on that facet of their game, as a slow start like that in their next game against the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons might prove costly by the end of the game.
UAAP Football players are in the age bracket where versatility is an added incentive. Liay has proven that he is one of the more versatile players in the UAAP today. He admitted that he was confused at times in the game but didn’t mind what position his coach put him. Nevertheless, he felt that it works and had no problem with whatever position he played at for Ateneo. “Maybe the first two games it didn’t but that’s where the team needed me, at the back that time. I’m at the disposition of the coach and the team”, he said.
Up next for the Blue Eagles is the Quezon City derby nicknamed “Battle of Katipunan” by Merida, between them and the UP Fighting Maroons. Liay believed that the Blue Eagles are capable of regaining the championship. “After two games the team was really down because it was really frustrating. We’re going after a tough team again so we’ll see if we can affirm what we confirmed today on the field.”
An Ateneo win over UP would definitely kickstart the Blue Eagles’ season after a slow start, and expect Liay to be one of those at the forefront to make it happen.
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