Ateneo de Manila University closed out the 81st season of the UAAP with two more championships, after the Men's Football and Women's Volleyball teams both brought UAAP gold back to Katipunan.
The men's football team, led by season MVP Jarvey Gayoso, defeated collegiate rivals De La Salle University, 2-1, last May 16th in a match that needed a 30-minute extension to decide.
The Lady Eagles volleyball team meanwhile, came back from a one-game deficit to defeat the Sisi Rondina-led University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses in a best-of-three finals series to reclaim their spot at the top of the UAAP women's volleyball landscape.
Both achievements were celebrated in Ateneo's Back on Top Bonfire, Friday evening at the Ateneo de Manila Grade School Parking grounds in Katipunan.
This was Ateneo's second bonfire celebration for Season 81, with the first taking place back in December of 2018 to celebrate their first-semester triumphs, highlighted by the Blue Eagles men's basketball team's second-straight championship.
Ateneo President Fr. Jose Ramon "Jet" Villarin opened the festivities by thanking all the athletes who proudly represented Ateneo's colors thoughout the season as well as speaking about the UAAP as being not only a competition, but a community as well.
"The uaap is community first before its a competition," Villarin stated. "Maybe we're competitors, but we're a community first. We need our rivals for our better selves. We need our competitors to go beyond ourselves. We need passion and transendence, going beyond ourselves, that's a gift."
The first championship team to grace the stage were the Blue Eagle booters, who after a rough start to the season, managed to turn things around and ultimately finish the elimination round with the top seed. In the semifinals, Gayoso powered the Blue Eagles past Far Eastern University. In the finals, it was Gayoso again, who came up big as his last-minute equalizer forced extra time against DLSU. In the extension, it was graduating team captain Julian Roxas who provided the heroics, scoring the go-ahead header to secure the win and hand Ateneo their second men's football crown in the last two seasons.
When asked about his game-tying conversion in the first minute of injury time, Gayoso had a pretty simple response.
"I think we can all say that it feels good that it was against La Salle," said the fourth-year striker, drawing cheers from the crowd.
Afterwards, it was the Lady Eagles volleyball team's turn to be recognized, as the masses of fans stormed towards the stage to get a closer look at their champion idols.
The Lady Eagles were dominant throughout the women's volleyball season, also finishing at the top of the standings and earning a twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals. Ateneo faced a lot of adversity in the post-season, as they were pushed to two matches in the semfinals by Far Eastern University, and then again in the finals, losing Game 1 to UST before bouncing back and winning two straight to capture their first women's volleyball title since UAAP Season 77.
The highlight of the night was the lighting of the celebratory bonfire, which was done by men's football MVP Gayoso and Women's Volleyball Finals MVP Bea De Leon.
Also recognized during the bonfire were the Ateneo Juniors Basketball Team and the Ateneo Men's Lawn Tennis Team, both finishing as first runners-up in their respective tournaments.