A 10-man University of the Philippines (UP) team dealt College of St. Benilde its first loss, 2-0, to secure a playoff spot in the top division of the Ang Liga Season 15 collegiate football tournament on Sunday at the De La Salle University Science and Technology Complex Football Field in Biñan, Laguna.
The leading Maroon Booters struck in either half as they posted their seventh straight win en route to sealing a semifinals berth with 21 points.
Besides being the first team to clinch a playoff slot in the premier preseason tilt, the State U was also the first to score against the Blazers.
The Taft-based booters displayed a sturdy defense that allowed them to keep a clean sheet for 475 minutes of action until they faced the rampaging squad from Diliman.
Tasting their first defeat in six matches, St. Benilde squandered the chance to overtake Lyceum of the Philippines University on No. 3 as they remained with 13 points built on four wins and one draw.
Blazers’ goalkeeper Jake Allen Vicen denied Maroons’ standout Fidel Tacardon twice but was not able to save the free kick of Miggy Clariño in the 25th minute.
The Anto Gonzales-mentored team was reduced to ten men just 13 minutes after the restart with Clariño incurring his second yellow card.
But that didn’t stop UP from continuing its aggression as Tacardon punctuated the huge win with a breakaway in the 82nd.
In Division 2 play, Malayan Colleges Laguna barged into the win column at the expense of University of Perpetual Help System DALTA, 2-0.
Carlo Cubio and Jefrey Sabandal fired one goal apiece in the first half as the Wizards grabbed their first maximum points in four matches, keeping their playoff hopes alive.
The Junior Altas Booters got booted out of contention with their fourth setback in as many games.
JEREMIAH M. SEVILLA