Photo by: Trinity Matias
In their last outing, the De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Booters stunned the defending champions UP Fighting Maroons to make their comeback to the biggest stage of the UAAP Season 81 Men’s Football tournament.
The Taft-based squad returned the favor to Diliman after the Fighting Maroons booted La Salle out in the semifinals last season. The victory gave the Green Booters not only their first finals appearance since Season 77 but also another chance to end their 20-year championship drought.
Ever since winning consecutively in Seasons 59 and 60, the Green Booters only had a couple of golden opportunities of adding one more to their three titles. However, they missed both as they lost to Ateneo in Season 68 and to FEU in Season 77. Could third time be a charm for La Salle in Season 81?
The Green-and-White are set to face their archrivals, the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles, who are as well eager to bring the trophy back to Katipunan after failing to defend their title. The Blue-and-White were dethroned by UST last season.
A revamped La Salle team looked to surprise their opponents early into the season. Led by team captain Jed Diamante and a slew of rookies, the Green Booters finished the first round at second place with a record of 4-0-3. They then carried on with a final elimination card of 8-1-5.
Ironically, they suffered their only second round losses at the hands of their eventual playoff opponents, UP and ADMU.
In his team’s return to the championship round, Diamante still feels surreal. “It still feels surreal, but the team made it happen,” he said. The former Rookie of the Year will be playing in the Finals for the first time in his four-year career with the Green Booters. He continued, “We are excited to give our all for the community in this momentous match.”
The Green Booters’ captain admired the team’s desire to win. “Everyone wants it. Everyone is willing to sacrifice everything.” This statement reflected the Green Booters latest performance as they enter the Finals on a five-game run bridging Round 2 and the semis.
He specifically pointed out that in their last match against UP, “No one stopped until the final whistle.”
The top-seed Blue Eagles might be a tall order for Diamante and his teammates. Led by the league’s top scorer Jarvey Gayoso, Ateneo also banner their Finals experience, having been in the grand stage thrice over the last six seasons, and winning twice.
However, Diamante described the Finals as “a game of mentality.” The Green Booters are always capable of upsetting any opponent at any given time. He believes that they simply have to have the bigger heart on the pitch in order to win it all.
Support the DLSU Green Booters in their final game of the season tomorrow, May 16, 4:30 PM at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.