UST Golden Booters fail to enter finals, settle for third place

Photo by Joss Gabriel Oliveros/THE FLAME

THE UP Fighting Maroons ended the UST Golden Booters’ hope for a finals ticket in the UAAP men’s football tournament semifinals matchup, after a 7-8 penalty shootout on Thursday, May 9, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Despite their effort, the rookie-laden Golden Booters fell short, ending their Season 86 campaign in third place.

UP skipper Francis Tacardon gave the Fighting Maroons a one-point lead in the 45th minute through a goal that broke the initial deadlock, 1-0.

Thomasian goalkeeper and captain Miguel Abada made crucial saves that prevented UP from scoring, ensuring a clean sheet in the second half.

Tensions rose as the Golden Booters fought back, with midfielder and UST top scorer Tarnish Garciano seizing an opportunity to equalize the score with a poacher’s shot in the 57th minute. It was Garciano’s ninth goal of the season. 

UST midfielders received penalty cards. Chris Valderama received a yellow card for a deliberate handball and Archie Belluga received a red card due to a foul play. 

The match pushed into overtime as both teams drew, 1-1.

Abada continued his heroics, denying UP’s attempts during extra time, but neither side could clinch victory after 120 minutes of play. The deadlock forced a dramatic penalty shootout.

“UP was dominating sometimes, but there were times that we also dominated. We just (UST and UP) lacked finishing touches. But overall, I am happy with our performance,” UST head coach Marjo Allado told The Flame.

During the nail-biting shootout, Abada emerged as UST’s unsung hero, giving the team an advantage by blocking UP’s first crucial attempt. 

UST rookie defender Francis Vercide’s shot hit the crossbar during the sudden death round, sealing UP’s victory and entry into the finals.

Despite the loss, Allado is optimistic about the next season, noting that most of UST’s players are rookies. 

“The team’s development shows promise for next season. They just need more match experience,” he added. 

The team will lose the services of goalkeeper Carlo Fernandez and midfielder Carlos Orale, but Abada has decided to extend his stay for another year.

 “I wanted to repay the coaches for the opportunities they’ve given me,” Abada told The Flame

The Fighting Maroons also dashed the Golden Booters’ championship hopes in their last final appearance in season 80.

The defeat marks UST’s 17-year championship drought and its third loss to UP this season. F Joss Gabriel Oliveros and Mc Neil Zhy Serrano

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