San Beda College (SBC) escaped titleholders Arellano University (AU), 1-0, in the second round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) seniors football tournament at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium on Thursday.
With the victory, the Red Lions are just one win away from taking home this season’s crown and closing a nine-game sweep.
San Beda relied on a late-game surge highlighted by the lone strike of defender Mike Riconalla to keep their slate unblemished.
Riconalla exploited a gap in Arellano’s defense in the 81st minute to seal the triumph for the booters from Mendiola.
“Actually, we really anticipated that Arellano would really play well today because they are the defending champions. I’m really happy Mike (Riconalla) stepped up on the moment the team needed him the most,” SBC head coach Christopher Pedimonte said after the game.
Pedimonte added that they are now focusing on their preparation for their last second round match against the College of Saint Benilde (CSB).
“We are now really concentrating on our game against St. Benilde. We are really looking forward to our game against them on Tuesday. It will be battle between whoever will want to win it all,” he said.
In the other seniors division game, the CSB Blazers notched back-to-back wins after cruising past Lyceum of the Philippines University, 2-1.
Meanwhile, Colegio de San Juan de Letran (CSJL) stunned defending champions La Salle Greenhills, 3-0, in the juniors division.
After falling to the SBC Red Cubs in their first game in the final four round, the Squires gave the Greenies their second straight loss.
Letran grabbed the lead early with Aseel Ahmad scoring a goal 14 minutes into the first half.
The Greenies attempted to mount an offensive but were unsuccessful until halftime.
Letran resumed its aggression in the second half with two more goals to secure their first win in the second round.
Agustin Roa posted a goal in the 56th minute followed by another by John Roy Villasenor in the dying minutes of the game.
In the juniors division, San Beda, through the hat trick of Mariano Suba, trounced the AU Braves, 4-1.
Suba notched goals in the 12th, 28th, and 39th minutes while Christopher Villanueva added a goal in the first minute of stoppage time of the opening half.
Rovic Balunsat scored the only goal for Arellano U in the 45th minute.