NATIONAL University (NU) ended its campaign in the UAAP Season 79 men’s football tournament in style with a 2-1 victory over defending champion University of the Philippines (UP) Thursday night at the Moro Lorenzo Field.
Playing with pride, the Bulldogs opened the scoring courtesy of Mike Arbela in the 36th minute, before substitute Sebastian Patangan nailed the 62nd minute goal for the Fighting Maroons to equalize the score.
A Jacob Gomez’s strike in the 72nd minute restored NU’s lead which the Bustillos-based booters protected until fulltime.
The Bulldogs ended up with 19 points in fifth place, a notch higher from their sixth spot-finish last season.
“All the UAAP teams are balanced. You can’t relax. Anybody can win,” said coach Mari Aberasturi, who started mentoring the Bulldogs last August. “This season, our aim is to establish the style of play.”
Despite the loss, UP wound up second in the table with 28 points.
“We wanted to end on a high note. But unfortunately, there were lapses in our goalkeeping,” said Maroons mentor Anto Gonzales.
Making its fifth straight Final Four appearance, UP is hoping for a better effort as it plays against third-ranked and long-time rival Far Eastern University at 5 p.m. on May 4 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The other semifinals match, which is also a one-game affair, pits elimination round topnotcher Ateneo against No. 4 University of Santo Tomas at 3 p.m.