Ateneo HS is RIFA Division 1 champion!
What follows is a more personal account of the Ateneo de Manila High School Football Team's journey to win the RIFA HS Open Division 1 finals a few days ago. It was written by JP Oracion (4-B), the goalkeeper of the AHS Blue Booters.
It took talent, passion, and a little bit of luck.
With all the elimination games over and done with, we had only one loss, but with some cancelled games, we were only good enough for 3rd spot. Our 6-1, 4-0, 3-1, 4-1 wins were only good enough for 3rd spot. Nevertheless, it was a semi-final berth.
And that as they say, is the stuff that fairy tales are made of.
FEU, for the past 2 years, was always the team to beat. 0-1, 0-1, 2-5, 1-4, 0-1, 0-1 as I remember were the scores in Ateneo’s losses to FEU. Being in the 3rd spot, we had to face the 2nd spot school, which meant facing the daunting FEU for the semi-final.
Game day was on; it was a war on the field, as it always was, every time these two schools would meet. However this year, it turned out rather different, very different. With chances to score spurred on and wasted by both sides, and saves made by both sides, the game raced on into a higher magnitude. Determination and fear made for an explosive combination that was felt inside each and every one of us. As the game progressed, it really didn’t seem to get any better.
But still we pushed on, and we pushed on as a team. We kept on trying our best and finally, we were rewarded.
A goal, a beautiful team goal. 1-0 Ateneo.
This would of course encourage the other side to play even harder to even the score, and we had to defend our own goal with even greater intensity. They had their chances, but we were as determined. One-on-one, decent shots, set-pieces, each team had their own chances.
But, to the joy of the blue and white, the final whistle blew. 1-0 it stood after a tense game.
It boiled down to the talent of the whole team who was gifted, the passion to beat FEU and bring back the pride, and a little bit of luck as the opponents could have won if 2 of their shots did not hit the goal post.
Finally, after 6 long years, we were back in the RIFA Finals.
And the fairy tale continued.
This time the team to beat was a familiar opponent.
San Beda, a team we faced just recently in a game where we cruised to a 4-1 win, was our nemesis for the explosive final. But, in football, nothing is taken for granted. Them being in the finals is a proof enough how good they can get.
And Saturday came, game day, finals. Mixed emotions all round, some were overly-excited, some tense, but we had one thing in common, we all wanted to win the championship. And all we had to do is one thing:, the same thing we have always done throughout the season…play as a team, play as one.
And we did.
Under the noontime sun, with temperatures reaching 35 degrees, the Celsius artificial pitch was burning, but the game was far more heated. Both sides did not want to waste this opportunity to win the championship. Early on, good chances were created, yet saved by their respective goalkeepers. Both sides went back and forth, in a very high tempo game.
As we attacked more, we were rewarded with a goal. 1-0. Smiles and relief went all round, the first goal is always crucial. 1-0 on the scoreboard, but in our minds, we still thought, 0-0.
And it stood 1-0 until half-time.
The 2nd half began and the game was getting intense, too intense in fact. As tempers burst, pushing, shoving, verbal battles, and heated exchanges added to the jeers of the supporters. It was not a great sight even as Ateneans, formed by values, were at times acting contrary to what they have been trained to do. But, it is all part of the game. All for the win.
And we really wanted to win.
With that in mind, an elusive second goal came. 2-0 it now was, a security goal. 20 more minutes to be played, still filled with chances and tempers rising and we finally secured the win through our defense.
2-0 it stood.
It was a collective effort by the whole team, the pooling of all our talents as every member of the team played his heart out. Coupled with our passion to win the championship and a bit of luck as we faced San Beda, instead of a far stronger team in the finals, we finally achieved this goal.
After 6 long years, the RIFA Championship is back at the hands of Ateneo de Manila High School. It just is one of the best moments in an athlete’s life, winning a championship.
But of course, we could not have done it without the support of the Ateneo community, our friends, our parents, and most especially the One above. We could not have done it without Him.
With that, hopefully, our fairy tale does not end here, but have many more sequels. The Fil Oil Tournament, Palarong Pambansa and of course the UAAP Season are now our targets. With the support of the community, and the One above, who knows, we can do it again.
For His greater glory.
The members of the AHS Football Team are: Felino L. Sanchez III (2-D), Ferdinand E. Dulatre II (2-G), Javier Augustine O. Gayoso (2-J), John Michael P. Drilon (2-K), Timothy Caleb L. Perdignon (3-G), Christian Michael S. Castillo (3-H), Leonard Jason D. Gusilatar (3-I), Julian Vincent A. Roxas (3-I), Jin Daniel A. Montemayor (3-J), Alfonso Jose O. Escalona (3-M), Xavier Carlos Alvaro C. Alcuaz (3-N), Jose Paolo C. Oracion (4-B), Enrique Javier R. De Guzman (4-C), Jose Ignatius Mikael C. Soriano (4-D), Jose Roberto A. Andres (4-F), Marcus Jacob A. Moulic (4-F), Regino Federico L. Noel (4-F), Paolo Gabriel R. Alilam (4-G), Daniel Luis J. De Jesus (4-G), Nicholas Marco R. Untalan (4-G), Miguel Antonio G. Almazan (4-I), Julio Rinaldo D. Nemeño (4-I), Javier Alejandro T. Garcia (4-J), Jose Antonio C. Reyes (4-J), and Jose Celerino R. Rustia (4-J).
The team's head coach is John Paul "Jay Pee" Merida, while its assistant coaches are Gregory Louie Madrona and Richard Torres.
The team is managed by Enrique Javier R. De Guzman (4-C), Javier Alejandro T. Garcia (4-J), and Jose Antonio C. Reyes (4-J).