Miguel Kwan’s first touch in the finals had the University of Southern Phillipines Foundation fans (USPF) screaming in anger but his second had the University of San Carlos fans breaking into a celebration.
The second half substitute, whose first touch was a cheeky foul on USPF captain Janry Ancaso, scored the go-ahead goal on an even cheekier chip for a 2-1 win against a gritty USPF squad in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. men’s collegiate football finals.
“That was what we really planned, for Miguel to come in 20 to 25 minutes into the second half,” said coach Alan Medalla. “This team doesn’t back down or doesn’t get discouraged. We’ve proven that in the Prisaa when we were down 2-1 but still won against West Negros.”
It was an entertaining final that was only marred by a couple of incidents when a few players let their emotions get the better of them.
“I told them that if they will relax, we will pay for it. And that’s what happened,” said USPF coach Eleazer Toledo. “But I am satisfied, we managed to execute what we practiced. We kept our formation that was designed to control USC’s advantage in the midfield. It’s just the breaks of the game. The first goal was not from their midfield and the second goal happened because our defense relaxed.”
USC may have lost the midfield, but Yves Caballero had a field day beating the pants off of whoever was assigned to guard him at left flank. In the 17th minute, the outgoing senior connected with Steven Patalinhug, who ran into empty space for the first goal of the match.
A few minutes later, best midfelder awardee Venson Nery’s quick release inside the box went straight to the keeper, who quickly launched a counter. .
Then things got ugly for bit. That USPF counter was ended after a hard tackle by JS Christian Saguin and Cloyd Abare showed his displeasure with the hard foul by hitting Saguin in the back, starting a brief stoppage that had all officials in the field trying to keep control. Both Abare and Saguin would escape punishment but only briefly.
In the 40th, USC’s Paul Carison headed off Jayson Devivar’s cross to a corner but the set piece had to be delayed as there were more shoving and pushing in the box. Asisstant referee Luis Ariesgado signaled for center referee Dave Intong to approach him and after a brief talk, Intong showed Abare his second yellow and sent him off.
However, USC’s advantage in numbers didn’t last long too as Saguin was also shown his second yellow minutes later and both teams were reduced to 10, something that USC already anticipated.
“We also practiced with 10 players because I anticipate that someone would instigate and someone would retaliate,” said Medalla.
In the second half, Caballero, who was named the season MVP, continued to be a defender’s nightmare at the left, dancing his way past Jan Escarda but the resutling header by Nery was too strong.
USPF also got more active offensively, forcing Terrence Colmenares to punch a cross. The ball went straight to USPF but the resulting shot was wide. Jeralph Tura also got free inside the box, forcing Marcus Congmon—the best defender of the season—to a sliding clearance.
Then in the 68th, USPF again got into USC’s box and though Colmenares was headed to collect the ball with no one near him, a defender inexplicably pushed Emil Gumba, who went head over heels into the goal.
Intong pointed promptly at the 12-yard box and captain Janry Ancaso calmly sent Colmenares the wrong way to make it 1-1, sending the USPF fans in the stands to their feet.
The celebration didn’t last long.
Two minutes later, Kwan beat an offside trap and his cheeky chip—his second touch of the game—beat the approaching Benedict Saligan to give USC the lead again.
Saligan didn’t go home empty-handed though and was named the best goalkeeper while John Vargas of the University of the Visayas was named the top scorer with seven goals.