Bacchus Ekberg delivered one of the goals of the tournament to revive De La Salle Zobel’s final hopes with a 1-0 stunner over Far Eastern University-Diliman in the UAAP Season 86 High School Boys’ Football Tournament on Sunday at the UP Diliman Football Stadium.
Ekberg, 17, unleashed a free kick right in front of the Baby Tamaraws bench that went past FEU-D goalkeeper Quintin Lance Sanchez in the 61st minute of the match to clinch full points for the Junior Archers.
“I know he’s capable of free kicks like this because he scored a free kick against Ateneo also,” said coach Ayi Nii Aryee. “Coming from a suspension and then to score a winning goal, I give him the credit. I hope he will step up more.”
This was the perfect response from La Salle after it failed to earn a point in its 4-3 loss to FEU-D last week.
The Junior Archers staved off attempts by Baby Tamaraws winger Jacob Kelleghan, who was the 11-time champions’ most dangerous forward.
However, La Salle slowly grew in confidence as Fritz Kenzo Chua and Miguel Javier Bengzon had sniffs at goal before Ekberg’s strike.
After Ekberg found the breakthrough, things got worse for the Baby Tamaraws. FEU-D defender John Michael Pabilona received a straight red card in the 70th minute after he struck the head of La Salle’s James Matthew Dinglasan.
From that point, the Junior Archers held the Baby Tamaraws at bay as the latter only had Klian Terrence Niu’s desperation attempt as their last roll of the dice before the final whistle.
This was the Junior Archers’ first win over the Baby Tamaraws since the second round of Season 80.
“It feels great because if you look our last game against them, we wasted a lot of chances even though we were down by four goals, we kept pushing,” said Ayi. “If we finished that game with a draw, I think that would have helped us a lot but we are satisfied with this win today.”
The Junior Golden Booters were utterly dominant right from the opening whistle, clearly determined to ensure that their dramatic 1-1 draw against the Blue Eagles last week was just a one-off.
Rodrigo Mariñas III scored a brace in the 13th and 39th minutes while Kent Laurenz Dela Peña opened the floodgates in the 12th minute to give the UST a commanding three-goal cushion by the halftime break.
“Nagawa ng mga players yung sabi namin na better kung maka-score kami ng goal before 15 minutes para maka-gain sila ng confidence and at the same ma-control nila yung laro,” said coach Marjo Allado. “Ginawa nila ata two goals in the first 15 minutes so very good first half.”
Ateneo regained some pride in the shape of Enrique Luis Pastor’s 55th-minute strike but that was as good as it got for the Blue Eagles, who need a win next week to keep their finals hopes alive.
UST can clinch a ticket to the big dance next Saturday with at least a draw against La Salle.
“We will try our best na manalo against La Salle pero bilog ang bola,” said Allado. “Rest muna kami tapos start training on Tuesday and prepare against La Salle kasi si La Salle may momentum eh. So far, yung boys naman makikita mo na gusto naman manalo. We continue na lang yung mentality nila na keep on winning.”