University of the Philippines made it two titles in a row in UAAP men’s football, defeating University of Santo Tomas, 1-0, Sunday at the Ateneo High School Field.
Jinggoy Valmayor, a member of the national Under-23 football team that competed in the 2011 Southeast Asian Games, scored the lone goal of the match in the 61st minute as the Fighting Maroons claimed their third title in four years.
Incidentally, Valmayor’s stint in the SEA Games was also one of the reasons why UP’s title was special. UP’s top striker, along with several other Maroons players, weren’t able to join the squad in full blast until mid-November, less than a couple of months prior to the opening of the season in January, to fulfill their duties with the national team.
“The first title will always be sweeter. This year was also sweet in the sense that we had to struggle for the title,” said UP coach Anto Gonzales.
“This team is such a determined group of young kids. We held on together and the belief and trust with the team remained.”
Valmayor shared the same feeling.
“I wasn’t able to join the team immediately because of the SEA Games but we really had pride in our hearts to defend the crown,” said Valmayor.
Nathan Octavio was named the Most Valuable Player of the season while Michael Simms was adjudged as the Rookie of the Year adding to UP’s accolades this season.
The Fighting Maroons topped the league table with 20 points after five wins and five draws, in pale comparison to the nine out of 10 matches they had last year.
“During the first round, our defense was doing well because they were intact pero nangagapa ‘yung offense namin. But as the season went by, we improved,” Gonzales added.
Valmayor rolled the ball through the back of the net after a pass from Jay Eusebio to break the ice for the Fighting Maroons as they finally overcame a defensive-minded Tigers in the match.
“They really gave a lot of respect to our offense,” said Gonzales.
The loss was another heartbreaker for the Tigers in their third consecutive season as runner-up.
Meanwhile, in the women’s division, La Salle forced a rubber fixture for the crown defeating UST, 4-3, via penalty shootout.
The do-or-die match is set Sunday, March 4.