Published on March 3rd, 2015 | by Nadz Gathercole0
Diamante helps La Salle outlast Ateneo with game’s lone goal
Gelo Diamante recovered in time to come on as a late substitute to help La Salle torch Ateneo, 1-0, with a goal just moments before full time of the semifinals at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
The overwhelming goal finally earned the DLSU Green Booters their ticket to the finals versus FEU which will be held on March 8 at the same venue. The last time De La Salle University was in the championship for Men’s Football was in Season 68 of the UAAP, almost 10 years ago.
In the first few minutes of the first half, the Green Booters had multiple attempts on goal of the Blue Eagles but their shots were either wide or blocked by the opposing team. The combat of both teams to own the ball was fierce causing early minor injuries to the players. As the minutes ticked, both teams glared their defense skills, causing what seemed to be an endless back and forth motion of the ball. Finally, after six minutes into the game, the Ateneo men’s football team took a shot on the goal of De La Salle but went over the bar.
The first half continued with more attempts by both teams on each other’s goal, especially on the side of DLSU, but was blocked by the immensity of the opposing team to defend their territory. The goal keeper of the ADMU Blue Eagles, JP Oracion, was at the peak of his game as he caught several balls sent by Iñigo Gonzales, Nathan Alquiros, Christian Zubiri, Jose Monteliano, and Gerald Layumas. More importantly, with 13 minutes on the clock, the hearts of the Lasallian crowd thumped faster as Gio Diamante practically gained them an opening on goal, losing only to the mighty hands of the ADMU keeper. The ADMU Blue Eagles, likewise, had a rough shot on the DLSU goal but is too much and heads on top of the goal.
Chaos spread throughout the Lasallian side as Mike Castillo of Ateneo escaped from the DLSU defenders and placed his shot past goalkeeper Raphael de Guzman and straight at the net but was soon followed by puffs of breaths as it was ruled that the rookie winger was offside. Still goalless, La Salle had tries to put up a play passing the ball from Matthew Nierras to Zubiri but the shot goes wide to the right. The first half ended after two minutes of added time with both teams unable to score.
Attacks from both teams overflowed in the second half of the match by Alquiros and Layumas from the DLSU side and Castillo, Emilio Acosta, and Emman Paredes on the ADMU side. The Green Booters kept their attempts at a distance or in the box itself while the Blue Eagles attempted on their scores at the edge of the box. The defense of Villacin was at heights, with 37 minutes on left the clock, leaving no space for the Blue Eagles to attack. More attempts from both sides on the goal were made but cleared or caught by the keepers, keeping the ball away from the DLSU goal.
Screams filled the complex as Chuck Uy went in for Zubiri, the first substitution of the game, with high hopes of holding a point since Uy was known as the leading goal-scorer of the Green Booters before the game. Alquiros sent a breathtaking quick kick to the goal but was cleared by the Blue Eagles’ Marcelino. The minutes ticked with the ball coming close to goals but is cleared or blocked by the players.
With 17 minutes left in the game, Coach Hans Smith sent Gelo Diamante in for his brother Gio Diamante to play. After the match, coach Hans said “knowing Gelo is a hungry player, I just took a chance on him,” despite being familiar with Gelo’s fractured clavicle. Coach Hans added that he knew Gelo was not 100 percent okay but he had to take a shot on him and he was praying no one would bang Gelo up too badly. Free kicks were made by both teams but went wide on both occasions which stunned the ADMU crowd. Usually, the Blue Eagles would gain their goals on free kicks.
Just when the crowd started to fall silent as the game seemed to be heading into an extension, Gelo Diamante sent a blazing ball into the top left corner of the ADMU Blue Eagles’ goal earning DLSU the lead over ADMU, 1-0. With little time remaining, La Salle saw it out to celebrate their win at full time. According to Gelo Diamante, “coach Hans gave me a mission, it was a risk. I’m still kind of injured but I trusted coach and coach Hans trusted me and the team played so well”. The complex was crammed with screams of victory of the Green Booters, laughter of the DLSU supporters, and regret at the ADMU side.
The joy, pride, and confidence of DLSU were evident even after the game. According to Gio Diamante, the team captain, “we’re ready to go against any of them [FEU or UP], we’re prepared. We’re the only team that can handle them so hopefully, whoever wins here would put up a good fight.” Eventually, the Tamaraws went on to beat the Maroons after extra time in order to face La Salle in the Finals. The game is on Sunday, 4pm, still at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.