After missing the grand stage in the last three seasons, the De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Booters made their return to the UAAP Men’s Football Finals behind a 2-1 victory over the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons yesterday, May 9, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
In their third meeting this season, La Salle avenged their semifinals loss in Season 80 against the eventual champions UP.
Team captain Jed Diamante dished a free kick to Jovan Marfiga inside the box, who scored the opening goal at the 20th minute. The Fighting Maroons came up with an answer as King Miyagi tied the game at 1-all at the 38th minute.
Shanden Vergara was a superhero anew after breaking the tie with a goal at the 77th minute, courtesy of an excellent assist from Mohammad Almohjili. His goal proved to be the last for both teams as La Salle emerged victorious.
The win sent the defending champions packing as the Green Booters clinched their first finals appearance in four years, or since Season 77, where they lost to the FEU Tamaraws.
Head coach Alvin Ocampo commended his team’s hard work. “We would not reach to the finals if all did not contribute.” For the past few games, Ocampo kept on shuffling his cards, giving almost everyone a chance to play and make an impact on the pitch.
As they head on to the finals, Ocampo knows that they will be going through enough preparations before everything else. “We need to be 100% healthy. Yun na ang pinakaimportant. Everything on the last game will be about heart and mental toughness.”
Vergara, who has been consistent all throughout the team’s campaign, showed grit once more after scoring the go-ahead goal. “It was a great feeling scoring for La Salle. I’m very happy that I scored, especially in a crucial match like this.”
The former De La Salle Zobel standout emphasized that they will continue to work hard until they get the crown. “We will prepare for the finals, which will be the most important game for us, especially for La Salle. We want to get that championship and we will work for it.”
The Taft-based squad have a chance to end their 20-year title drought as they return to the UAAP Men’s Football Finals. They last claimed the title in 1998 when La Salle won three of the last four championships from Seasons 57 to 60.
Support the DLSU Green Booters in their pursuit to bring back the throne to Taft as they face archrivals Ateneo on Thursday, May 16, 4:30 PM at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.