NCAA Football: Arellano hangs on to beat St. Benilde

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Image copyright Bob Guerrero.

FT: Arellano 1, St. Benilde 0

The Chiefs stayed perfect in NCAA Season 91 play with a hard-earned win against the Blazers on Saturday morning in Rizal Memorial.

Jumbeng Guinabang bundled in the only goal of the match early, after CSB keeper Ronilo Bayan palmed away a shot to the woodwork. The rebound fell to Guinabang who delivered the finish.

Things got worse for the Blazers when Vincent Lovitos was sent off for a second yellow card with plenty of time left in the first half.

Benilde nonetheless played positively, creating chances and dominating possession in the second half. They clearly had a tactical advantage, with far more fluidity in attack that AU. The Chiefs employed an old-school sweeper/stopper backline and relied on longish balls forward to their strikers, Robert Corsame and Charles Gamutan. There was a noticeable gap between midfield and the forward line, with insufficient support for the two marksman.

In reality Chiefs were playing for the 1-0 win with most everyone else camped out in the back of the formation most of the time.

Benilde’s nine outfielders eventually tired, and Areallano seized the initiative late. Gamutan should have made it an unassailable 2-0 late but he skied his attempt after a terrific run and cross by Mario Titoy.

I last saw Corsame at the Palarong Pambansa in 2013. He is a skilled player who has grown into a sturdy young man but needs to release the ball sooner.

The final score flatters AU but coach Judy Saluria will gladly take the points.

Benilde has two interesting overseas-born Pinoys on their team, Edie Velizano and Carmelo Genco. Velizano is full-blooded Pinoy but raised in Japan. He is both left and right footed and is decently sized. He needs to be fitter and quicker if he wishes to play UFL ball. Genco is Italian and played up top for Marlon Maro. Popoy Clarino, the Lyceum coach, says he was outstanding in his younger years.

Mari Aberasturi, on the coaching staff of San Beda, says Genco has a brother named Lorenzo who is a regular goalscorer on the youth team of Udinese, the Italian Serie A side.

Val Calvo started for CSB in midfield but was pulled in the first half despite a pretty decent outing. It appears his knee may not be 100%.

Was hoping to see Bayan and his opposing goalie, Jericho Desalisa making some saves but apart from the goal, neither was troubled with anything difficult. Desalisa appears to be in excess of six feet tall and is a strong guy. Definitely a UFL prospect with that size. His kicking can improve, though.

Lyceum and Emilio Aguinaldo College were supposed to contest the second game of the triple header but EAC, with only thirteen players on their roster, were further decimated by injury and suspensions. I was told they could only dress ten players, one short of the minimum, so the Pirates win by walkover 3-0.

It’s a shame that this happens at this level. I hope in the future schools can support their football programs better. Each team really should have at the very least eighteen men in the lineup, ideally more.

San Beda, on the other hand, comes very prepared to each game. Aberasturi was videotaping the AU-CSB match while head coach Nhiboy Pedimonte scouted. The Red Lions played Perpetual Help and as of press time led 9-0 with twenty minutes to go. That means San Beda, in three wins, has outscored their opponents 38-0.

The NCAA football season is single round robin for the seven teams, (Baste and Letran do not have squads), then a final four that is round-robin but no draws. Each game must have a winner even if extra time and penalties are needed. No championship series. It’s a very odd format indeed. They should copy the UAAP format of double round-robin then playoffs.

These players need more match experience to mold them into better players. Aberasturi tells me about 35 matches a year is ideal, but these kids are lucky to get half that. The current system is also elitist: the better teams get far more match experience, so get much better than the weaker sides that miss the final four.

On Wednesday Lyceum will test San Beda at 11:00 am. That will be a very big game for the two unbeatens.

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