Within Reach: DLSU looks for first Men's Football title in 17 years
Santino Honasan on Mar 06, 2015 06:04 PM
When the De La Salle men’s football team walks onto the pitch this Sunday, they could possibly be 90 minutes away from accomplishing something that hasn’t been done since the 1997-1998 UAAP Season, and that is capture the Men’s Football crown.
Looking back on the Green Booters’ stellar Season 77 campaign, it would be enough to make you believe that this group is primed and ready to replicate what their predecessors did around 17 years ago.
This season, DLSU was the only unbeaten team and went on to finish at the top of the standings and clinch a semifinals berth, where they went on to defeat rivals Ateneo thanks to a last-minute goal from the returning Gelo Diamante to book a trip to the finals after an almost ten year absence.
“It’s good that we made it back to the finals after so long, thinking that nobody gave us a chance, and considering that we’ve been habitual fourth-placers. It’s big for the boys, I think now it’s a moral boost.” DLSU Coach Hans Smit told the media following last Sunday’s win over Ateneo.
For Coach Hans, his boys did everything that they sought out to do this season, save for one final task, and that’s taking the Men’s Football trophy back to Taft. “We’re here. We made our objective of making it to the top four, surprisingly we made it to number one, and hopefully we win the last game.”
This Sunday’s game will be welcome challenge to the long-time De La Salle coach, who basically said he’s tired of coming so close to the top only to stumble back down.
“I’m sick and tired already of having one foot in the Finals, coming into the last game of the second round, and then drawing the game or losing by one goal and ending up in fourth place. From a chance of being a champion to becoming fourth place.”
If you think an almost ten year absence from the finals is a long time, then 17 years since becoming champions must seem like an eternity. The last DLSU team to hoist the men’s title was the 1998 team led by co-MVP Alvin Ocampo, a team that was on the second leg of back-to-back title runs.
Now part of the DLSU coaching staff, Coach Alvin shared his thoughts on the similarities of his championship team to this new group of title contenders.
“Yung bond ng team yun e, kumbaga ‘I got your back!’ ganung style eh. Tapos yung eagerness, yung hunger. Gutom manalo.” Coach Alvin told ABS-CBN Sports. “Itong group of players ngayon, nag-mamatch up talaga. Pinaghirapan talaga nila yung buong season eh, so it really boils down to this last game, how much they really want it.”
Coach Alvin’s 1998 team came back from one goal down in the first half of their Finals matchup against Ateneo to come out victorious, 5-1. While winning a title against your rivals was surely an elating feeling for the players back then, Coach Alvin sees the bigger picture should the Archers claim the title on Sunday.
“Yung future players that will be coming in. Yun yung important dun. Kapag nakita nila na contender yung La Salle, maganda yung program nung football, then they’ll want to apply here for college. Ngayon at least hindi lang education yung hinahabol, pati yung football program.”
With one more game left, De La Salle has a chance to end a 17 year title drought, but before anything else, they must get past the defending champion Far Eastern University Tamaraws.
The Season 77 Football Finals will take place this Sunday, March 8 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. FEU takes on UP in the women’s final at 2:00 pm, while DLSU meets FEU in the men’s final at 4:00 pm. Catch the action LIVE on ABS-CBN Sports + Action 23 and BALLS HD 167!