In the latest fixture of college sports’ biggest rivalry, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles sent their arch-rivals De La Salle University Green Archers crashing out of the UAAP Season 79 Men’s Football Tournament with a 2-0 victory.
Julian Roxas’ first half screamer put one nail in the Green Archers’ coffin, while Samuel Lim’s injury time tap-in buried the Taft school’s Final Four hopes six feet under the ground.
“I’m so happy with the result,” shared Ateneo coach JP Merida. “After the big loss last Thursday, my players performed (today) as individuals from the goalkeeper up to our striker. I’m happy talaga sa result.”
Desperation had crept into the Green Archers’ play from kick off. The University of Santo Tomas’ win earlier in the day against the Far Eastern University made this fixture a must-win for La Salle if they wanted to continue their push for a Final Four slot.
La Salle kept pumping balls into the Ateneo box to no avail as the Blue Eagles defense repelled every single attempt at doing so. In contrast, the Blue Eagles attacked with finesse as they sought the win to maintain their place in the standings.
After 38 minutes of action, it was the Blue Eagles who drew first blood. Roxas has cemented his place in the current Blue Eagles lineup with his fine play throughout the year, and the veteran midfielder unleashed a long shot from outside the La Salle box which left Green Archers goalie Kerbi Almonte helpless.
The tide failed to turn in the second half. Despite Green Archers midfielders Jose Montelibano and Rafael Siggaoat having chances on goal, it was the Blue Eagles who controlled the game. The Katipunan school simply played the game out and frustrated La Salle.
No miracle was forthcoming, and La Salle’s fate was sealed when Lim scored deep into injury time. In the end, Ateneo sealed top spot with a 2-0 win against La Salle, as the latter will have to contend with sitting on the sidelines once the post-season comes into play.
Ateneo’s reward for their good season is a Final Four duel against UST on April 30 after the elimination round. “Hindi kailangan i-underestimate ang UST. Of course kailangan mag-ready against UST sa semis pero of course hindi pa tapos ang eliminations. We need to prepare pa against FEU,” commented Merida.
Ateneo (32 points) shall end the elimination round against a struggling FEU side at 4:00 PM, while La Salle (15 points) will play UST earlier at 2:00 PM. Both games shall be held on April 20 at Ateneo’s Moro Lorenzo Field.
ADMU XI: Arcilla, Baña, Ceniza, Grierson, Herrera, Jarvis, Liay, Mathay, Poe, Rocha, Roxas
DLSU XI: Alcantara, Almonte, Brago, Diamante, Garcia, Gonzales, Lawless, Montelibano, Siggaoat, Villacin, Ybañez.