State U wins 19th UAAP Men’s Football Championship

The wait is over.

The UP Men’s Football Team snagged their 19th UAAP trophy after dethroning the FEU Tamaraws, 1-0, in the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Football Finals on Thursday, May 16, at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex. 

State U won their last UAAP championship in 2018 when they outlasted the UST Golden Booters with a 1-0 victory in the same venue. 

UP MFT Captain and senior Marc Tobias celebrates in front of the UP crowd. Photo by Emman Capones

Stadium showdown

Both teams stormed the first half with aggressive forays, with the Maroon shirts accumulating a total of eight shot attempts and seven corner kicks. 

Despite their offensive push, the scoreboard remained locked at 0-0 as the teams headed to halftime.

An opportunity for a penalty kick arose in the 50th minute when UP forward Francis Tacardon was fouled by FEU’s Andre Yu inside the box.

Team captain and midfielder Marc Tobias made the penalty shot into the right-hand side of the net, marking his second personal goal of the season that gave UP a crucial 1-0 lead. 

In the 88th minute, a free kick by FEU’s forward Karl Absalon struck the crossbar, leading to a scramble in the box, but rookie goalkeeper Alfonso Gonzales secured the ball. 

Despite the Morayta-based squad’s physical offensive tactics, State U’s defensive prowess successfully held firm, achieving a shutout until the final whistle.

Championship Tactics

Last March 17, senior goalkeeper Ryan Tiambeng was hit with an untimely injury in their first-round match against Adamson.

Rookie Gonzales then had to step up which led to efforts paramount to the team’s success, tallying a total of two saves during the finals game.

“It feels great, especially being a rookie playing a big role and being able to start for the team. I couldn’t have done it without the help of the seniors who were constantly pushing me and helping me gain confidence,” said Gonzales during the post-game interview.

Following a heartbreaking fifth-place finish in UAAP Season 85, the Fighting Maroons orchestrated a remarkable turnaround in their first year under UP MFT Head Coach Popoy Clarino.

“One of our objectives is to have that ‘mamba mentality’ that you need to work harder than your opponent. Kapag mag relax ka, tapos ka,” said Clarino.

Meanwhile, Tobias attributed their triumph to the synergy within the team, a key factor he has raised since Tinig ng Plaridel’s Athletes of Diliman interview in Round 2. 

“Yung chemistry ng team ‘yung nagpapanalo sa team na ‘to— ‘yung tulungan at saluhan ng isa’t-isa sa amin,” he said.