Ateneo, De La Salle share football titles

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THE fabled rivalry didn’t happen on the pitch, as Ateneo de Manila bagged the men’s crown and De La Salle captured the women’s title of Season 79 University Athletic Association of the Philippines football action on Sunday at the historic Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Unlike in women’s volleyball where the Lady Spikers beat the Lady Eagles in a classic Game Two Finals showdown, the two schools faced separate opponents to share the sport’s biggest trophies.

The Blue Eagles flashed their composure to the hilt and hung tough to a solitary title-clinching goal from Most Valuable Player Jarvey Gayoso in the 38th minute to beat Far Eastern University (FEU) for their first title in four years.

“I’m so happy. I’m speechless. Just wow! Champion again. This is my second championship as a coach,” said Ateneo Head Coach JP Merida, who steered the Blue Eagles in their last title run in Season 75.

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“It was the players who delivered this title and drove the school back as football champions,” he added. “We really deserved this win, we deserved this championship.”

But the night belonged to the Lady Archers, who completed a perfect season and ended a seven-year title drought after beating University of Santo Tomas (UST), 3-1, in the knockout final.

“There’s no other team that deserves the championship this year,” said La Salle coach Hans-Peter Smit, whose players struggled all season because of injuries. “I’m not downplaying the other teams, what I’m saying is, I say they deserve this because we were never complete this year.”

The Lady Archers won all their matches this season—no draw. But their last assignment, the championship, was their toughest.

After a goalless first half, Best Striker Kyra Dimaandal, who had 12 goals this season, escaped the tight UST defense for her team’s first brace in the 55th minute.

But Hazel Lustan retaliated in the 73rd minute as UST tied the match at 1-1.

The Lady Archers never wavered with Sara Castañeda—who played hero when she scored the goal that gave the Philippines its first-ever ticket to Women’s Asian Cup in a recent qualifier—rose to the occasion with a brace from Iris Navaja’s cross in the 87th minute for a 2-1 De La Salle lead.

De La Salle’s graduating goalkeeper, Inna Palacios, took the penalty kick at stoppage time and scored not only to ice the title conquest but give herself a fitting send off from her illustrious collegiate career.

Kyla Inquig took the season MVP award, while with Palacios (Best Goalkeeper), Castañeda (Best Midfielder) and Regine Metillo (Best Defender) clinching the other individual titles. De La Salle also bagged the Fair Play plum.

UST’s Marie Indac went home with the Rookie of the Year honors.

 

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