It may have been a no-bearing match, but one side wanted to get something from it.
With the same “no pressure” approach, the University of the East Red Warriors pulled off another shocker, sending the erstwhile-undefeated Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles to their first loss, 2-1, Thursday evening at the latter’s home turf, the Moro Lorenzo Field in Katipunan, Quezon City.
Aside from the light take on the match, head coach Fitch Arboleda shared, “Nag-prepare talaga kami for this match. We worked on our attacking, kasi yun yung kulang namin against Ateneo.”
That focus on offense was evident in the first period, as the Recto-based squad piled up the pressure early. That incessant attack bore fruit in the fifth minute as Mark Lerion finished the sequence on his first touch.
The Warriors would not let up in Ateneo’s defensive third despite the lead, getting interceptions repeatedly in the midfield.
Their aggressiveness paid off nine minutes after the opener. Jasper Absalon connected to sophomore Mar Diano, who composedly sent the ball past Blue Eagle keeper Jae Arcilla.
The league-leaders would not be denied their own chances, especially at the tail-end of the period, but UE’s keeper denied any breach on his goal until the halftime whistle.
Admittedly, after getting the lead and holding off the home side to nil, Arboleda had instructed his men to switch to a defensive stance.
No longer facing the same pressure as in the opening half, it was Ateneo’s turn to go for the goals.
Several chances went begging for the Blue and White’s attacking force, however, as even Jarvey Gayoso could not connect. Nonetheless, the white-shirts would be soon rewarded.
A handball call inside the box in the 67th minute against the Red Warriors conceded a penalty to the Blue Eagles. Skipper Carlo Liay confidently took the spot kick and shot the ball towards the right, taking one back for his team.
That served as Ateneo’s wake-up call, as they continuously worked for the equalizer. Nonetheless, UE’s defense held up to the final whistle.
The loss for the Blue Eagles went from bad to worse, when before the end of the match sophomore striker Gayoso was sent off on a second yellow card.
The first-year Warriors’ mentor Arboleda was pleased of his wards’ game at the end of the 90 minutes. Echoing what he had said the most recent match, “I’m not into winning. Manalo man, draw, o matalo, basta maglaro kami ng maayos, okay na ko doon.”
He also shared, “Sabi ko nga yung mga games namin, lalo yung draws, errors lang namin. Kung wala pala yun, eh di mas maganda. Baka nasa taas pa kami ngayon.”
Nonetheless, the former Red Warrior himself has accepted the result and looks to build up on the momentum for next season.
The Recto-based squad (11 pts) will be looking to continue their winning ways as they still have the Adamson University Falcons (3 pts) left to face in this season. That battle is slated on Sunday, April 9, at 7:00pm at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. On the other hand, the Blue Eagles (29 pts) will be looking to bounce back when they face the hungry De La Salle University Green Archers (15 pts) earlier at 5:00pm.