Mike Arbela’s strike in the 55th minute was enough for the National University Bulldogs to seal a precious 1-0 win against the University of Santo Tomas Golden Booters, today at the Moro Lorenzo Field on the Ateneo de Manila University campus.
The result propels NU to fourth place in the UAAP Season 79 Men’s Football Tournament standings, while UST are relegated to fifth spot.
“Kung makita niyo yung last three games na panalo, galing sa low defending pa rin. Pero marami pa ring kulang talaga, hindi pa tayo ma-satisfy. In the last 20 minutes, ang dami naming binigay na headers sa UST,” commented Bulldogs coach Mari Aberasturi.
After a goalless first half, NU’s aggressive start in the next period paid dividends. Rookie winger Elmer Sampaga pressed well enough to force a turnover from UST skipper Darryl Regala. Sampaga intercepted the ball, went into the UST box, then shot wide.
Sampaga, though, wasn’t done. Another foray at the right flank allowed Sampaga to penetrate the Golden Booters’ box, and he did enough to lay off the ball to Arbela, whose shot at the edge of the box went past UST goalie Zaldy Abraham in the 55th minute.
Stunned but not down, the Golden Booters tried to roar back as quickly as they could. NU goalie Chris Lerocho performed a routine stop to deny substitute Conrado Dimacali, while headers from Efren Menares and Renz Gumban failed to find the back of the net.
The Golden Booters pushed for that equalizer, but the Bulldogs held firm. In one such sequence of play, a quick counterattack allowed Bulldogs forward Lawrence Colina shoot narrowly over the Golden Booters crossbar.
NU eventually prevailed 1-0 against UST and the Bulldogs end the first round on a high with three straight wins. “Happy tayo na panalo peri hindi pa satisfied kasi madami pang kulang if we want to progress higher sa second round,” added Aberasturi.
As of this writing, there is still no word as to who NU (3-1-3) and UST (2-1-4) shall face to start the second round.
UST XI: Abraham, Benecio, Busmion J, Busmion D, De Castro, Feril, Gumban, Molino, Pasion, Rafol, Regala,
NU XI: Alivio, Arbela, Colina, Dagsa, Lawagan, Perocho, Sampaga, Socrates, Sullano, Valenzuela. Viray
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