Stephen Del Rosario’s stoppage time header provided the climax as De La Salle University overcame archrivals Ateneo de Manila University 2-1 in the UAAP Season 85 Men’s Football Tournament, Sunday, Mar. 19, at the UP Diliman Football Field.
The Laguna native jumped highest to head the ball home in the 90+8 minute to lead the Green Booters across the finished line. His header gave La Salle all three points just when it looked like Ateneo found a way to salvage a draw.
With the Blue Eagles down a goal, referee Meliton Pelayo pointed to the spot after a handball by Green Booters winger Mikio Umilin. Leo Gabriel Maquiling then stepped up and converted the penalty in the 90+3 minute of the match but the Blue Eagles ultimately failed to hold on for a point.
“They wanted to win. They never let up regardless of the time. They deserved the win. I give it all to the boys. I just give it all to the boys,” said coach Hans-Peter Smit. “I mean maybe it helped a lot it was against Ateneo. That’s always an added boost for both teams. It just so happens it could have gone either way. This game could have gone either way. It just so happened na we had the better chance and we pounced on it so I give it to the boys.”
Earlier in the contest, Isaac Anoh drew first blood for La Salle with a cool finish in the 73rd minute.
The match took a nasty turn in the second half. Tensions flared between both sides after BJ Cordero committed a hard foul on Umilin. A scuffle then broke out between the two teams. Cordero and Christian Peñalosa were then dismissed in the 63rd minute for their roles in the fracas.
Thanks to the win, La Salle rose to 3rd place with 10 points in the standings at the end of the first round on the back of three wins, two losses and one draw. On the other hand, Ateneo fell to 4th place with 10 points but with a -1 goal difference after three wins, two defeats, and one draw.
“This should drive them more,” added Smit. “This should give a morale boost to the players as individuals and as a team. Now they know they can handle it. All we need to do is to just hone up a few of our weaknesses and then let’s go on to the next game.”