by Mikee Garcia
The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons ended the first round in a sour note with a 0-1 loss to the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers in the UAAP Season 78 men’s football tournament, Thursday at the Moro Lorenzo Field.
It was a tough call for the Diliman-based booters in the 18th minute of the game, when defender Ian Clarino was booked for a red card after a hard foul to UST’s rookie sensation AJ Pasion.
This resulted into a penalty kick for the Espana-based booters which veteran Ronald Batisla-Ong comfortably converted to seal the early lead for the Tigers.
Despite having majority of the ball in the whole duration of the game, the Fighting Maroons had some tricky shot selections that kept the comfortable lead of their opponents.
UP had its chances to score in the second half of the game, through the mid-range shots of team skipper Daniel Gadia and veteran Carlos Monfort and long free kicks courtesy of Patxi Santos.
A last-minute goal attempt from substitute Vince Aguilar during the 92nd minute proved futile as the ball easily came to the hands of UST’s goalkeeper Zaldy Abraham.
Although his boys suffered a tough outing, UP head coach Anto Gonzales commended them for playing their hearts out in the game.
“It’s very difficult playing 64 minutes with ten players but I thought that the boys responded very well despite having a man sent off the game,” said Gonzales.
He also gave credit to the Growling Tigers for packing their defense well after scoring the lone goal of the match.
“It’s been an ongoing adjustment (for my team), trying to get clear scoring opportunities and, of course, technical shooting,” Gonzales added, which he said are also vital in winning more games during the next round of eliminations.
Monfort, however, had a different view with how well they performed in this game.
“I’m contented when it comes to how we move, how we pass the ball, and how we play. But I won’t be contented until we start scoring more goals,” he emphasized.
With the win, UST tied with De La Salle University in the top spot of the team standings by having 17 points, while UP is at fourth place with 11 points.