|The action before the rainfall that turned some teams' fortunes around.|
Ateneo Football League Week One.
Ocampo Field, Ateneo de Manila University.
Twenty-two of the 44 teams saw action on Opening Day of the Ateneo Football League’s second season. The day began with overcast skies and a hint of rain. By kick-off time at 2:30pm, it was good weather. By halftime of the first games, the Ocampo Field had turned into a quagmire where players had to slog through where the ball didn’t travel far in the mud, and where the slippery conditions changed the fortunes of some teams.
In the first game of the Mixed Fun Division, FC FLP took a two goals to none lead against Ana Com United 3 in the first half with some terrific finishing. They narrowly missed adding a third goal as they found the back of the net with a long-range strike except that the halftime whistle blew a second before the shot was taken. FC FLP would rue that missed goal as Ana Com United 3 came roaring back in the second half with three unanswered goals. The match winner came when FLP’s keeper dropped the ball and Ana Com's Jon Nazario booted the ball in right before the final whistle for an incredible come from behind 3-2 win.
It was the only win of the three Ana Com teams as Ana Com United 1 lost to Ateneo Med School 3-0 and Ana Com United 2 was thrashed by Budacamp 12-0.
In the 30-and-Below Division, Los Tontos, with former varsity players Roger Lastimado and Alvin Perez in tow, beat Atletico San Juan Valentin 8-1. Los Tontos had a clean sheet going until a switch in goalkeepers where Perez moved as netminder while the regular GK Miguel Villadolid went out. San Juan Valentin salvaged a measure of pride when they pulled back one.
Gaffer, with its players from last year’s champions Outlaws, made short work of Atelier 11-0.
Juan Sanz SJ FC (named after a former Ateneo Spanish Jesuit priest), with its mixture of Ateneo de Manila and Ateneo de Naga players pounced on a depleted Psykicks squad for a 7-2 win in the 31-and Above Division.
Perhaps the most exciting match of the day was played in the Seniors Division when AGS85 Puzakals defeated Team Freedom 5-4 in penalty kicks after a 4-4 time in regulation. The Jobi Millar-lead Puzakals took a 4-1 lead as they killed last year’s AHS Jubilarian batch on the counter. Team Freedom, RIFA champs during their high school years (with some going on to win a pair of UAAP titles with UP in the late 1980’s), came roaring back to equalize right before full time. In the first match of the season to go to penalty kicks (there is no extra time or no draw results in the AFL), former Blue Booter Raffy Roa missed his spot kick for Team Freedom that allowed the Puzakals to come away with the crucial first win. Team Freedom’s Martin Lichauco said post-match by way of consolation, “Happy Hour na lang tayo!”
In the other Seniors Division match, Oscariz defeated Blue Guards (that once more during Opening Day did not have any bench to speak of), 4-2. Blue Guards had several opportunities to not only equalize but to also take the lead but they muffed their shots.
In the HS/College Division, defending champion Aria got off to a good start on their title retention bid when piped Schlubig 2-1 while Bacchus, with their futsal players, crushed the FC 2011 with the score of 9-1.
|FLP was in control of the match until the rains fell and they conceded three second half goals for a loss.|
|Team Freedom's Martin Lichauco (second from left): O, inuman na!|
|Blue Guards' Mike McCloud attempts to send the ball on the overlap but not if my cousin Chito Caluag (playing for Oscariz) can help it.|
|Ebong Joson scored on his penalty kick to get Team Freedom back in the game against AGS85 Puzakals. Last year's Ateneo High School Jubilarian Batch lost, 5-4.|