UAAP 81 Football Finals: Rookie Shanden Vergara hoping to end La Salle title heartbreak
Santino Honasan on May 15, 2019 12:04 PM
Rookie Shanden Vergara (11) hopes to be able to help end years worth of UAAP Men's Football heartbreak for De La Salle University
De La Salle University rookie Shanden Vergara's go-ahead goal against defending UAAP Men's Football Champions University of the Philippines propelled the Green Archers into the UAAP Season 81 Men's Football Finals, and for the first time since UAAP Season 77, the Taft-based squad is once again one win away from ending a very long men's football title drought.
Vergara, who can be considered as the leader of a spectacular DLSU rookie class that has delivered throughout the season, now hopes to be able to deliver for the community one more time this season.
"I’m very happy that we’re [going to] the Finals. Nag-agree kami sa mga coaches na hindi namin into last game, gusto namin maka-abot sa Finals," Vergara said, talking about their semifinals bout against UP, who were looking to capture their third championshp in four years. "Ayun, naabot namin yung pangako namin na maka-abot sa Finals, and hindi namin ito iwe-waste. Kukunin namin itong championship na ‘to."
"It’s been a long time na yung La Salle, hindi nananalo, so i-take namin itong chance na ‘to na manalo. Kailangan namin manalo," Vergara added.
It has been a long time, indeed.
The last time that De La Salle brought home a men's football title was back in the 1997-1998. It was their third title in four years, and part of that championship squad was none other than current Green Archers head coach Alvin Ocampo, who is effectively in his first year of handling the men's team in place of long-time head coach Hans Smit, who has taken more of a consultant role.
For Ocampo, while he takes pride in being part of the last team to bring a men's football title back to Taft, he believes that it's time for another group of footballers to etch their names in university and UAAP history.
"Last batch was my batch, 1998. Like what Patrick Deyto said, 'They have to shut up Coach Alvin' because every time we talk about championships, it’s always the ’98 batch that we talk about. I think it’s high time that we talk about a new batch, the new generation."
Winning the title, Vergara says, will be for every single member of the La Sallian community, especially for Ocampo and Smit, who have gone through their fair share of heartbreak in terms of a UAAP Men's Football championship.
"Ginagawa namin ‘to para sa lahat, coaches, La Sallian community, para ma-abot to, kasi yun nga, yung La Salle, hindi maka-panalo [ng title], ilang years na, importante para kay Coach Alvin and kay Coach Hans, kasi pinag-hirapan ‘to nila. Every day, every training, pinag-hirapan nila. Tinrabaho namin."
Apart from ending a whole university's title drought, Vergara also hopes to be able to prevent another title heartbreak of his own.
In his last two years in the Juniors division, Vergara helped the De La Salle-Zobel Juniors team to two Finals appearances, both times falling just short of a title to the dynastic nine-time champions Far Eastern University Baby Tamaraws.
Now, with a chance to become a champion in the seniors division, the first-year midfielder is looking to make the most of the opportunity.
"Two years, two consecutive Finals, it’s been a heartbreak for me, so I should not waste this again," he said.
De La Salle University faces collegiate rivals Ateneo de Manila University in the Finals of the UAAP Season 81 Men's Football Tournament! Catch it LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD channel 166, Liga channel 86, Liga HD channel 183, and live streaming via https://sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/uaap2 and iWant Sports