Five-peat champion San Beda College (SBC) opened its title-retention bid with a lopsided 12-0 victory against Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) at the start of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) football tournament on Tuesday at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
Veteran booter Ralph Abriol starred in SBC’s commanding victory, scoring four goals in the 13th, 25th, 49th and 55th minutes.
The Red Lions left no room for the Generals to instigate attacks throughout the match as the former swatted away the latter’s chances with their pesky defense.
Three players led by Under-23 Azkals player and Filipino-British forward Connor Tacagni, Miguel Caindec and Rey Dela Torre, capped off the match with two goals each as SBC took the provisional top spot of the rankings.
Nimrod Balatbat added one more goal in the 74th minute before Jay-R Sandoval ended the goal fest with a strike of his own in the final minute of regulation.
“The score line will not directly affect the outcome of the tournament but I told the players that we should start strong in our first game because it will dictate the outcome of our season,” SBC head coach Christopher Pedimonte explained in Filipino after the match.
The win is a good boost, according to Pedimonte, as the Red Lions aims to extend their reign to six consecutive seasons.
“The players responded positively in the outcome of our game and I guess it will be a boost to our season. But I told them that execution of our game plan is still key to winning,” he said.
Pedimonte admitted that they would be facing tough competition in this year’s season of NCAA football as teams from other schools have also beefed up their lineups.
He is expecting College of Saint Benilde, Lyceum of the Philippines University and Arellano University to be their toughest competitors this season.
“I believe St. Benilde will be tough because they are a rival team. And also, the teams of Lyceum and Arellano, I believe will be in the Final Four,” he said.
In the other games, Arellano scored a convincing 6-1 victory against the hapless Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals while the Lyceum Pirates beat University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, 2-0.