Green Booters’ title bid bruised following stumble against UP
Published on February 11th, 2014 | by DLSU Sports
Skipper Gio Diamante’s goal in the 24th minute was insufficient for the Green Booters to bag neither their fifth win of the season nor the third straight stalemate as the UP Fighting Maroons bagged three goals in a 1-3 defeat that stalled La Salle’s chances of booking a twice-to-beat berth in the UAAP Season 76 Men’s Football Tournament Sunday morning at the FEU-Diliman Football Field.
One was not enough
The elder Diamante punched his side in front, using his head to guide Jhoguev Ybanez’s cross toward the goal 24 minutes into the match. The lead did not last long for UP’s Fe Baya levelled the game nine minutes after the Davaoeno’s breakthrough goal. It was a see-saw affair until Nicko Villlacin was given marching orders for what seemed to be a soft foul on UP star striker Jinggoy Valmayor in the 74th minute. On another day, Villacin would have been given the benefit of the doubt but it did not prove to be a lucky day for him. Two yellow cards in one game for Villacin, who was also booked for a foul in the first half, reduced the Green Booters to ten men and also gifted the Maroons a chance to go ahead.
Indeed, UP took the lead as Valmayor, a former LSGH wonder kid, made no mistake from 12 yards. In a match of 10 vs 11, defending was made difficult in the latter stages of the game for the Green Booters. Nonetheless, they showed grit by going for an equalizer but the Maroon defense was sturdy enough to hold on. Instead, UP ended up on the scoresheet, capitalizing on a man advantage and erased all doubts of their win after UP’s Aguilar knocked a goal in to cushion the Iskos’ lead right before the final whistle.
Despite the defeat, La Salle goalkeeper Joshua Cruz was not entirely frustrated with the team’s performance. “The team played okay up until the penalty call and that changed our momentum by a lot. [In a situation where we are] a man down and a goal down is pretty hard to come back from. The team played well but we just could not convert until that last minute when they slipped in the last attempt.”
With league-leading FEU and a nothing-to-lose NU team – who recently had their playoff chances wiped out following defeat against the Tamaraws – Cruz and company are definitely aware of the danger the team still has to overcome. “I guess we just have to learn from our mistakes—that’s the important thing. We have a week to fix what we really messed up today,” added Cruz.
Grueling race to the playoffs
La Salle currently shares third place with UST, both having 14 points with the Taft XI narrowly ahead on goal difference. UE is in fifth with only two points behind DLSU and UST at 12. Defending champions Ateneo, resting at the bottom of the standings, are still in the running for a playoff spot but would need to win all three of their remaining matches plus hope that only one among DLSU, UE, and UST would reach 15 points or more for them to make it to the Final Four.
As the team would strive to string a couple of good results for them to qualify for the semi-finals and not just to keep their hopes of snagging a precious twice-to-beat advantage, Cruz deems it important for the team to reignite a philosophy they’ve had last October in Bacolod. “[For us to get] our UNIGames mentality wherein we really wanted to win it, the mentality in which ‘they aren’t going through me’ [and] the ‘I will not surrender’ mentality [prevailed, is vital],” the 20-year old custodian ended with conviction.