No three-peat for UP as Ateneo clinches UAAP men’s football titleBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines—Apart from bringing the title back to Ateneo, thwarting University of Philippines’ three-peat bid was one of head coach JP Merida’s motivations.
On Sunday, the Blue Booters managed to do both as they dethroned the Maroons, 4-2, in penalties and clinched the UAAP season 75 men’s football title at the Moro Lorenzo Field in Ateneo Campus.
“Hinding hindi namin papayagan na manalo ang UP ng three-peat. Ateneo lang ang pwedeng mag three-peat,” said Merida, a part of that squad which last won three straight from 2004-2006.
It is the Blue Booters’ sixth overall title.
After a scoreless tie in regulation and extra time, Ateneo flourished in the pressure-packed penalty shooutout, taking 3-0 lead before finishing it off.
“Mga players ko ready lang talaga silang sumipa sa penalty. Yung puso at lakas ng loob na sumipa andun,” an ecstatic Merida told the reporters.
Yu Murayama, game one’s savior for Ateneo, coolly found the back of the net in his penalty kick attempt and settled the score.
The Blue Eagles also won 4-3 in penalties last Thursday, with Murayama scoring the equalizer in regulation and the clincher.
Eric Figueroa, Val Calvo, and Mico Mabanag all converted their penalty attempts that left Ateneo needing just one more goal to wrap the game up, while UP misfired on its first two shots.
Evanjames Mendoza sent an ugly weak shot to left of the post, then Reymark Fernandez had his strike deflected by Blue Eagle keeper Nick O’Donnell.
Only Jinggoy Valmayor and Fe Baya made their shots for the Maroons, who ended a two-year reign in men’s football.
Ateneo’s Carlo Liay was named the rookie-of-the-year, Mabanag got the Best Midfielder citation while O’ Donnell won the GoalKeeper of Year and MVP plum.
Jess Melliza of Far Eastern University, unsurprisingly, was the best striker while Grergory Yan of La Salle wound up as the best defender.