by Edri K. Aznar, Staff Writer
Mike Limpag, Sports Editor
IT wasn’t until the extra time that Christian Vasquez was called upon by University of Cebu (UC) head coach Glenn Ramos to replace an exhausted teammate stricken by cramps.
That proved to be the game-changer.
Even with just a little time left, Vasquez made the biggest impact of all the UC players as he scored a magnificent winning goal to oust top-seed University Southern Philippines Foundation (USPF), 4-3, in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. football tournament yesterday at the University of San Carlos (USC)-Technology Center football pitch.
Vasquez scored a difficult long shot from 25 meters in the 15th minute of extra time to give UC its first ever trip to the Cesafi finals.
“He had fresh legs and I counted on him to step it up,” an ecstatic Ramos told Sun.Star Cebu.
Neri Mole Jr. drew first blood with a goal in the 36th minute. Miko Joseph Limalima increased the lead to 2-0 after scoring a penalty kick that was awarded from a handball USPF defender in the penalty box.
The game was interrupted in the second half after a UC fan had an exchange of words with one of the linesmen.
After the game resumed, Aljohn Armamento hit the back of the net in the 63rd minute from a penalty shot that was given also due to a handball from a UC player. Carlo Zaballero scored the equalizer four minutes after.
UC took the lead again with a shot by Axiel Parel in the 87th minute to make it 3-2.
As UC thought they already bagged the match, Joseph Rodriguez scored an equalizer in the second minute of added time to send the match into extra period.
“I motivated my players and told them that once we enter the semis it will be different,” said Ramos, who urged his team to play hard because all the teams are on equal footing in the semi-final round. “Our motivation was we practiced hard, prepared well and we are disciplined. We work hard.”
In the other semifinal match, defending champions University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) beat USC, 5-0.
Both Junjun Pintuan and Agapito Baclaan shared the offensive load for USJ-R with two goals each while Adrianne Mejaran added a goal.
UC, who will be having its first trip to the finals, is taking on USJ-R in the championship match next week while USPF faces USC for third place.
Ramos believes that USJ-R is a daunting foe because most of its core players from last year’s championship squad is still intact while his squad are mostly composed of first timers in the Cesafi tournament.
“We will improve our defense and our attacking but most especially our endurance so that we will last the whole 90 minutes,” said Ramos.