University of the Philippines (UP) notched a rare double victory after winning the men and women’s titles of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 78 football tournament at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium on Thursday.
The UP male booters bagged its first title since 2012 while the Lady Maroons copped their very first crown in the women’s division.
The Fighting Maroons soundly defeated Ateneo de Manila University, 4-1.
UP relied on the stellar performance of rookie sensation Kintaro Miyagi, who registered a hat trick as UP plunged into action with several raids on Ateneo’s territory. The Fighting Maroons’ effort was rewarded with Miyagi’s opening goal in the 28th minute.
Team captain Daniel Gadia doubled UP’s lead to 2-0 with just a few minutes after their initial goal.
On the other end, Ateneo skipper Mikko Mabanag retaliated with a goal off a well-taken free kick to cut the deficit down to just a single goal, 2-1, at halftime.
In the second half, UP sustained its dominance as Miyagi registered two more goals in the 69th and 80th minutes to power his club to an impressive finals triumph over Ateneo.
According to coach Anto Gonzales, the title is just a bonus considering the quality of play that his wards showed throughout their campaign in the league.
“I’m just happy that compared to last season’s performance, the way we played this season was three notches above in terms of overall play. Like what I said, this final is just the icing on the cake,” he said.
The Lady Maroons, on the other hand, banked on a late game surge to trounce the De La Salle University, 2-1.
The Lady Maroons shrugged off a dismal performance in the first half to complete their comeback and seal their victory against the Lady Archers.
UP started scoring on the penalty spot following a hard foul on BG Sta. Clara from deep inside the box. Cristina Delos Reyes scored a shot from the spot to give her crew a 1-0 edge in the 50th minute.
La Salle quickly responded and earned a penalty for their side after a handball inside the box from one of the Lady Maroons. Sara Castañeda converted from the spot and leveled the score at 1-1.
With the match drawing to an end, Sta. Maria managed to clinch the game-winning goal from a corner kick after being left unmarked inside La Salle’s area.
Gonzales attributed the victory to his team’s resiliency inside the pitch and added that they are lucky to pull-off a victory against the tough Lady Archers.
“The girls, from a very poor first half, they changed course and second half they played better especially defensively. They were the underdogs but they pulled off an upset,” he said.