UNIVERSITY of Cebu (UC) outlasted University of San Carlos (USC) in a thrilling 3-2 penalty shootout to win the Men’s Open division title of the 17th Thirsty Football Cup last Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, at the Cebu City Sports Center football field.

Rival football schools UC and USC fought to a scoreless draw in regulation. But UC was more accurate in the penalty shootout and took home the title from USC.

USC and UC were on the same group in the group stage. USC was the No. 1 team in Group 3 with eight points from two wins and two draws. UC had finished second in the group with two wins, a draw and a loss. UC edged out Calbayog FC, which also had seven points, on goal difference. UC was +5, while Calbayog FC was just +1 on goal difference.

UC defeated JR Impas FC, 3-2, in a penalty shootout in the quarterfinals and then earned a trip to the finals with a 5-4 penalty shootout win over Zeath FC.

USC, on the other hand, defeated PCY FT, 1-0, in the quarterfinals and then won against Orlina FC, 5-4, in a penalty shootout in the semifinals.

Jim Travina was the best player of the Men’s Open division and was awarded with the Golden Ball.

The Men’s Open had the biggest participants in the annual football festival with a total of 40 teams, divided into eight groups.

After a three years, the 17th edition of the Thirsty Cup drew a total of 222 participating teams from 13 different divisions.

The tournament had a lot of out-of-town teams that comprised of 27 percent of the tournament. The visiting teams came from Barotac, Capiz, Bacolod City, Himamaylan, San Carlos City, Dumaguete City, Butuan, Davao, Panglao, Maasin City, Argao, Talisay City and BVadian.