After four years, the De La Salle University Green Archers are back in the promised land.
Courtesy of a clutch goal by Shanden Vergara, the Taft-based school eliminated defending champions University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in the UAAP Season 81 Men’s Football Tournament Final Four, 2-1, Thursday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
“We just needed to enter the Final Four. Anything can happen in the semi-finals. It is about who wants it more and who’s prepared for the semis. Now we’re one step closer to our goal,” said La Salle coach Alvin Ocampo.
The Green Archers gained the lead in the 20th minute thanks to defender Jovan Marfiga. Jed Diamante delivered a good ball into the Fighting Maroons box, which the Masbate native then headed in.
Anto Gonzales’ men then leveled the proceedings seven minutes before the break. Kintaro Miyagi headed the ball towards goal, which goalkeeper Franz Brosoto saved. However, the ball landed to Miyagi, who then scored from close range.
The action got too fierce as a scuffle broke out between both teams. Both sides then calmed down, while Miyagi and Clarence Limchiko of La Salle were given yellow cards for their part in the fracas.
With the game in the balance, it was La Salle who found a way to score the winning goal. Midfielder Mohammad Almohjili delivered a long ball towards striker Shanden Vergara’s path. The De La Salle Zobel alumnus then shot past UP goalie Anton Yared to seal the Green Archers’ return to the big dance for the first time since Season 77.
“We all know UP is a strong team but La Salle, we managed to match-up (with them). Yung yung importante, naka match-up kami. Kudos to the coaches of UP. Definitely they brought a strong team to the UAAP,” added the former national team player.
UP XI: Abraham, Borlongan, Bugayong, Clarino, Facturanan, Lapas, Magdato, Miyagi ©, Saavedra, Sanciangco.
DLSU XI: Almohjili, Brosoto (GK), Cruel, Diamante (C), Eduave, Koizumi, Lagura, Marfiga, Siggaoat, Umilin, Vergara.