A familiar face has booked a ticket to the UAAP Season 80 Men’s Football Tournament Finals
The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons entered the big dance once again with a 1-0 win over the De La Salle University Green Archers Thursday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
“More than the win, I think that we performed well today. We were very patient. We showed our composure, our experience inside. But we have to learn how to have that killer instinct,” said UP mentor Anto Gonzales after his side secured their second Finals appearance in three years. “Overall, we should be happy with the performance.”
The Fighting Maroons dominated the first half but failed to break down the Green Archers’ stubborn defense. La Salle’s resistance, though, surrendered just minutes off the restart when UP’s Kyle Magdato shot past goalkeeper Paeng de Guzman for the opener.
Despite being a goal down, La Salle merely sat back and baited UP for the counterattack. The Fighting Maroons controlled possession of the ball and should have added to their tally if not for De Guzman’s fantastic stops against Fidel Tacardon and Daniel Saavedra.
“Today, I thought La Salle made it very difficult for us by playing really defensive. They held a very low block. They didn’t concede a lot of attempts especially in the second half. We have to learn how to break down such kind of defense,” added Gonzales.
Substitute striker Chris Lawless had a sniff at goal for the Green Archers in stoppage time but his attempt failed to hit the target. In the end, it was UP’s destiny to return to the Finals since their last championship run in Season 78. On the other hand, La Salle can take solace in the fact that pride has been restored for its football program after its barren Season 79 campaign.
Noel Brago, Nicko Villacin, Paeng De Guzman and Cristian Zubiri all played their final game for La Salle.
With the win, the Fighting Maroons earned the right to face the University of Santo Tomas Golden Booters for the championship. That game will be played on May 3, 3:00 PM at Rizal Memorial.
“I’m very excited. UST played so well in their game vs Ateneo. I think it’s gonna be an exciting match,” concluded Gonzales.