UP seals top spot, ends regular season unbeaten despite derby stalemate against Ateneo

Super rookie Fidel Tacardon thought that his heroics almost gave UP a repeat against Ateneo. Denver Lachica/Dugout Philippines
By Kevin Estrada

MANILA--UP formally seal the number one seed in the UAAP Men's Football postseason with a thrilling four-goal stalemate in their Katipunan Derby against Ateneo in the final match of the regular season Thursday evening at the Rizal Memorial.

Only needing a point to head into the Final Four unbeaten, the Fighting Maroons of Anto Gonzales did just enough to end their campaign on 34 points, two more than Ateneo, who needed a win to take the top spot and seal their match up with fourth-seeded La Salle next week.

The Blue Eagles blew an early lead in the second half, but the heroics of freshman Joshua Laud was enough to split the pot as they set their second consecutive semifinal against third-placed UST also on the 26th.

Despite resting the trio of Enzo Ceniza, Jarvey Gayoso and Jeremiah Rocha, Ateneo surprisingly went ahead in the 16th minute, when sophomore Ryan Haosen headed Rupert Baña's free kick past Harrel Dayan.

However UP equalized eight minutes later as Ian Clariño tucked the spot kick when freshman Fidel Tacardo was brought down by Julian Roxas in the box to put the derby level at the break.

Then the former Claret standout duly put State U ahead seven minutes after the restart, converting on an turn and shot which was made possible by their passing play.

However, Laud left it late with just three minutes left, tucking in from close range from a Koko Gaudiel header to avoid being swept by their neighbors up north.

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