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Early UAAP men's football shocker as UE upsets La Salle behind Jerome Abarca's hat trick

Teammates join Jerome Abarca in celebration after he scored the first of his three goals against La Salle. UAAP Season 85 Media Team
By Dugout Philippines

QUEZON CITY—Jerome Abarca had an opening day to remember as he led the University of the East to a 5-1 win against De La Salle University to open the UAAP Season 85 Men’s Football Tournament with a bang, Sunday at the UP Diliman Football Field.

The rookie forward from Butuan City scored thrice in the first 45 minutes of the game. He leveled the contest in the 13th minute and put the ball at the back of the net in the 22nd and 38th minutes to give UE a commanding lead.

“Very lucky yung isa kong player, si Abarca number 30,” said Red Warriors coach Fitch Arboleda. “Pinagtiyagaan ko yan the whole week. Kahit nung isang araw, hindi pa yan maka-shoot. Medyo swerteng-swerteng bata ngayong araw.”

“Lahat ng ginawa namin for the whole week bago mag start yung first game, nag pay off naman so yun, happy ako sa result," he continued.

In between Abarca’s heroics, Edmar Adonis slotted one home for the Red Warriors with a fine finish in the 15th minute.

With a three-goal cushion at the halftime break, UE managed to add to its tally in the second half to truly kill off any chance of a La Salle comeback.

Eldrin Madrid executed a perfect one-touch finish in the 52nd minute to put the exclamation mark on the Red Warriors’ perfect afternoon.

“Yun nga, sinasabi ko lang talaga sa kanila - one game at a time,” added Arboleda. “Talagang since before no, yung hinawakan ko kasi, malakas yung nag-start sa akin pero ayoko kasi lumingon kasi wala akong maayos na sub before.

“So ngayon, sabi ko sa kanila, kahit 20 minutes lang kayo, 10 minutes kayo diyan sa loob, basta 100 percent kasi meron akong pamalit na mas maayos. So yun lang yung ano ko sa kanila - 100 percent. Wag sila matakot mapagod kasi meron akong mga sub na maayos," he added.

Before the Red Warriors went on a rampage, they conceded an early goal from La Salle’s Stephen del Rosario in the 8th minute of the match.

Red Warriors goalkeeper Lance Bencio also had a standout game epitomized by his fine save against Jovan Marfiga’s first-half penalty.

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