SEVENTH HEAVEN | Ateneo kings of men's football after edging FEU in a tight final

Kings of the Pitch. Ateneo are in seventh heaven after ending a four-year wait for a UAAP title.
By Kevin Estrada

MANILA -- Spreading its wings wide, Ateneo are the new kings of the pitch, clinching their seventh UAAP Men's football title after edging FEU by the slimmest of margins in a thrilling final at the Rizal Memorial Sunday afternoon.

Sophomore forward Jarvey Gayoso poked the lone strike of the final for his 12th of the season, cementing his Golden Boot and Golden Ball plum in the process as Jay Pee Merida waited for four years to get his second crown manning the touchlines for the lethal Blue Eagles, his fifth overall after being part of the three-peat team as a player.

In what has been a very even affair, most pundits would have expected that this will go the distance, both teams went physical right from the opening whistle, with Reymart Cubon flooring Carlo Liay on the match's first play of the game.

But it was the Tamaraws who first tried AJ Arcilla's frame in the opening moments, as Audie Menzi lets his ball agonizingly wiggle above the line after a great display of passing made by Paolo Bugas in the 18th minute.

Six minutes later, Arcilla was at it again, stopping Nicolas Ferrer on a 1-on-1 off a counterattack to keep the nets immaculate.

It took Ateneo 36 minutes to make a considerable noise, with Jarvey Gayoso had his free kick denied by the crossbar.

But two minutes after that, his goal poaching instincts bore fruit as he took a misplaced back pass by Bugas and converted his left-footed rebound after he was denied by RJ Joyel on the initial, right-footed effort to put the top-seeded Blue Eagles ahead 1-0 at the break.

Ateneo had a couple of chances to double to their slim lead at the restart, with the crossbar again the culprit in denying Jordan Jarvis this time from the outside.

But the lads of the Loyola Schools will never be denied this time, as Arcilla and the backline led by Jermiah Rocha held firm to bring the title back to the southern side of the Katipunan Avenue.

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