Season 79 championship could be the first of many for Jarvey Gayoso and the Ateneo booters
"I believe there's nowhere else to go but up from here." - UAAP Season 79 men's football MVP and Ateneo striker Jarvey Gayoso
Motivated by the heartache of last season's finals loss to University of the Philippines, sophomore Jarvey Gayoso and the rest of the Ateneo men's football team exploded out of the gates in UAAP Season 79 finishing with the tournament's best record, and ultimately the tournament's biggest prize.
Playing without the likes of former skipper Mikko Mabanag and Rookie of the Year Mashu Yoshioka, the Blue Eagles leaned on Gayoso and Carlo Liay, the final remnant of the Ateneo team that went all the way in Season 75, and the two delivered.
Liay, who sat out a number of games due to injury, provided the veteran leadership and the experience, serving as the team captain in his final season.
Gayoso on the other hand, without mincing words, was the man for the Blue Eagles, all season long.
The third-generation athlete already proved a season ago that he had to tools to become a prolific scorer, but in Season 79, the kid showed that he could facilitate and make plays for his teammates as well, while still being the team's main offensive weapon.
More importantly, Gayoso showed that he could step up and take over when it was time to do so.
In the semifinals, the second-year striker punished the University of Santo Tomas defenses for two goals in just the first half. It proved to be the enough to come out with a 2-1 win and a return trip to the tournament finale.
Against powerhouse Far Eastern University in the finals, Gayoso capitalized on an error to score the lone, deciding, championship-winning goal.
"That was God-given." Gayoso said of the conversion during the post-match interview. "We just made the most out of that opportunity, and we're glad with how things turned out."
The championship ended a three-year wait that saw Ateneo finish second to the last in one season, and then crack the semis in the next, and then fall short in the finals, making their title run this season all the more sweeter.
"It was what we deserved, I believe. We prepared so hard for this, and we've given ourselves the right mentality entering this game." Gayoso said. " I believe we got the best outcome out of it."
The reality is, this could just be the start of what could be a dynasty in UAAP men's football.
When Season 80 rolls in, the only player that's not coming back, barring any unforseen circumstance, will be Liay.
Everyone else will be back in blue and white, including Best Goalkeeper AJ Arcilla, Rookie of the Year Jordan Jarvis, and Best Defender Jayrah Rocha.
The talented crop of rookies which includes Enzo Ceniza, Sam Lim, Ryan Haosen, and William Grierson will be back.
And of course, Season 79 MVP and Best Striker Gayoso will be back, and possibly even better.
If you're an Ateneo football fan, you should be very excited.
Winning the championship in Season 79 could be just the first of a lot more to come.
"I guess you can say that. Last year was probably a glimpse of what the Ateneo could do, despite the criticism and all the doubts." Gayoso responsed when asked if this was just the beginning for him.
"I believe there's nowhere else to go but up from here."