The University of Santo Tomas are the masters of alumni football.
The Growling Tigers held off a determined UP to win the UAFL overall title on Sunday, December 2, at the center fields of the Manila Jockey Club in the San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite.
UST went 4-1 on Sunday’s final match day to amass 43 points, 5 better than second-place UP. DLSU finished 3rd with 27 points, while Ateneo managed a fourth place finish with 25. San Beda came in fifth with 13 markers.
The age-group awards were very evenly spread. UP took home trophies in the 31-39 and 48 and above divisions while Ateneo, who had a bye on Sunday, triumphed in the 40-47, having swept that category a week ago.
San Beda console themselves with gold in the 21-30, while the women’s medals went to an undefeated Santo Tomas squad.
The day began with the Thomasians, just 3 ahead of UP in the overall points tally, bulldozing San Beda in the 31 to 39, 6-2. Six different scorers found the net for the Tigers, including three Barotacnons, Yoc Becite, Louie Brilliantes, and Meliton Pelayo.
UP did their part to keep up with the black and gold crew, defeating DLSU in that age group 2-1. Andrew Santiago and Paolo Misa left the La Sallians shell-shocked with two goals in the first eight minutes. Tating Pasilan’s 73rd minute strike, his sixth of the UAFL, was mere consolation as the Maroons won their division.
Then UST stuttered, losing to San Beda in the 21 to 30 division 2-0 on goals from Jay Shaun Soberano and Ashley Flores, handing the Lions the division title.
UP failed to take full advantage of the opportunity, though, as their 21-30 team could only draw 1-1 with the La Sallians. Step Permanes scored for Diliman while Jimuel Ariola was on target for DLSU.
Still, that brought the state university to within two points of their rivals for España, 34 to 32.
The turning point proved to be the ladies division, where the Tigresses demolished San Beda’s ladies 22-0 to win the distaff side title. Boting Mondero was in imperious form, netting nine goals while Jennizel Cabalan compiled 5 goals.
In contrast, UP’s women fell 3-0 to DLSU. After a goalless first half, Paula Siggaoat put La Salle in front with a tap-in at the hour mark. Seven minutes later it was 2-0 thanks to a neat finish from Nicole Andaya from a tight angle.
But the ladies of La Salle saved the best for last. WNT keeper Inna Palacios, by then deployed as a field player after starting in goal, steered in a perfect free kick into the top right corner for 3-0 with just minutes left.
Trailing 32 to 37, UP needed UST to stumble in the last two matches but that did not happen. When the Thomasians blitzed San Beda 8-2 in the 40-47, the title race ended, with UST reaching 40 points, beyond the Maroon’s possible maximum total.
UST’s Edzel Bracamonte needed just 13 minutes to get a hat trick, igniting the rout.
UP did beat DLSU 4-1, with goals from Alex Magalona, John Paul Demontaño, Kenneth Villaluz, and Pilo Rosell, but it was too little, too late, with UST up 40 to 35.
In the final set of matches UST ended with a flourish, breaking open a close game to beat San Beda in the 48 and above category 6-1 to finish on 43 points. Thomasian Dodjie Locsin provided a second-half brace.
But UP’s 48-and-above side also impressed, downing DLSU 3-1 with a razor-sharp performance from their former national team players.
Pilo Rosell, playing his second match of the day, left spectators slack-jawed with an inch-perfect, top-corner free kick in the 19th minute that Archer Art Tabuena soon negated with a scrappy goal.
But in the second half Rudy Del Rosario unspooled two pinpoint passes to Maxi Abad that were both expertly bundled into the goal frame to seal the three points. This ageless UP squad went a perfect 4 for 4 to capture this category.
During the brief awarding UST lifted the handsome permanent trophy for the overall title while the category awards and individual plums were also handed out.
The players then watched the Azkals’ AFF Suzuki Cup semifinal match against Vietnam on a large vidiwall courtesy Cignal TV. Chivas Blended Scotch Whisky was on hand to provide cheer for what was dubbed as the Chivas Reunion Party to close out the festivities.
The inaugural UAFL was presented by Manila Jockey Club and veteran events specialists CAN Sports, with the invaluable assistance of RSA1 Group. The league thanks MJC CEO and President King Reyno and VP for Marketing Eduardo Ramirez de Arellano for their support.
UAFL also thanks Adidas for supplying the official match ball, Gatorade the official hydration partner, CNN Philippines the media partner, Animo Magazine, Philamlife, Bootcamp, Chivas Blended Scotch Whisky, and Belle and Dragon.
Special thanks also to the broadcast partners, Gametime TV Ch 109 and the San Lazaro Broadcast Network, who showed the matches live on Cignal TV and on YouTube.
To book the SLLP Center Field and PFF Artificial Turf Pitch in San Lazaro Leisure Park, contact Jeng Arrazola at 09167766377 or Mikki Cardenas at 09178829312, 02-687-9889 loc 410, 02-843-5561 loc 106.