After a three-game rot, the De La Salle University Green Archers got their UAAP Season 80 Men’s Football Tournament campaign back on track with a 2-0 victory over the Adamson University Soaring Falcons, Thursday morning at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
“(The players) moved much better. The defense held up and played very well. We trained the whole week and that was what we focused on, defense and pressure. That’s what we need for our next game against Ateneo. I just hope they hold up and play the same way,” commented La Salle coach Hans-Peter Smit.
Just like in their previous game against the National University Bulldogs, the Green Archers had trouble putting the ball in the back of the net. Jed Diamante, Marcus Garcia and Mathew Custodio had their sniffs at goal to no avail.
Custodio should have broken the deadlock for La Salle as soon as the second half kicked off, as the sophomore striker was through on goal, only for Adamson goalkeeper Carl Viray to parry the shot away.
Smit admitted, “The problem today was conversion. As you can see we completely dominated but just couldn’t convert. Plus Viray is a really good goalkeeper, so that helped Adamson also and frustrated us some more. I just hope na we get better for Sunday’s game.”
Adamson’s confidence grew as La Salle shot blanks. Jusuel Pilarca threatened to score at the other end in the rare times Adamson attacked, but the La Salle defense was able to snuff out the danger.
The game felt like a show being repeated over and over again. Garcia fluffed another big opportunity to score, and La Salle’s agony was prolonged. The Green Archers needed to make a change, and Smit called on Mateo Alegre to replace Garcia.
La Salle’s reprieve finally came in the 68th minute. Match referee Wilfredo Bermejo spotted a handball infraction in the Adamson box and immediately pointed to the spot. Diamante stepped up to take the penalty and coolly converted it to give the goal the Green Archers deserved.
Diamante’s goal was La Salle’s first after three games, and it was not to be the last for the Green Archers this morning. Christopher Lawless, who substituted Cristian Zubiri beforehand, converted from close range to double La Salle’s lead in the 77th minute. It was Lawless’ third goal of the season.
With the 2-0 win, the Green Archers take a temporary hold of 4th place with 12 points, while Adamson are yet to get a single point this season. With one win already, Smit stated what he wanted to see from his men for the rest of the second round, “Keep up the intensity, hold the defense and convert.”
The two schools shall next play on March 11 at the Far Eastern University-Diliman field. La Salle will play archrivals Ateneo de Manila University at 1:30 PM, while Adamson takes on NU afterwards at 3:30 PM.