LEO PLAYS THE HERO FOR ATENEO
Leo Maquiling scores on another free kick to seal SHS-Ateneo de Cebu’s triumph in Cesafi final
After rescuing Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu all season long, midfielder extraordinaire Leo Maquiling delivered again, lifting the Magis Eagles past a determined University of San Jose-Recoletos to win the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. high school title last Nov. 10 at the Cebu City Sports Center.
The Jaguars, playing in their first Cesafi final, showed they weren’t intimidated and nearly broke the deadlock after a great feed from the midfield found Dustin Ramirez up front but his shot wasn’t on target. In the second half, Maquiling had his first chance but a shot off a rebound was just high, while Churchill John Jubac broke the defense at right but there was no one to receive his brilliant cross.
Maquiling again came close a few minutes later, off a pass by Christian Lumapas while on the other end, Christian Vierh Agot’s shot was blocked by Aaron Golosino.
Then just 11 minutes from time, USJ-R committed a foul some five yards off the penalty box.
Maquiling stepped up, both hands on his waist as he surveyed his options.
“I just trusted my instinct,” said the national youth team mainstay who was named both the top scorer and Most Valuable Player.
On the other end, goal keeper Franco dela Torre made the sign of the cross. He did it again, twice.
Maquiling stepped back and delivered the sweetest of all free kicks. The ball seemed too high as it got past the USJ-R wall but it began to dip down. Franco took a few steps to palm it up but the ball was picking up speed on the way down and hit the net, sparking a wild celebration by the undefeated team and its fans.
“I jumped a little after the kick because I thought it was a bit too high,” he said.
Coach Oliver Colina, who took over the team just this year, credited the boys’ hard work for the success.
“I have a lot of injured players but they just worked hard and every practice session, we set aside 30 minutes for set pieces,” said Colina, “Maybe we got a bit lucky with the goal also.”
There was no luck involved as it was Maquiling’s third goal via free kick this season and all came at crucial times.
“You have to consider the wind, the speed and a lot of factors,” said SHS-Ateneo athletic director Rico Navarro.
Aside from Maquiling, teammates Pomeroy John Veloso won the best midfielder award, while John Francis Zambrano got the best goalkeeper award after conceding only two goals all season long. USJ-R’s Januar James Villarin was named the best defender.
Meanwhile, former champion Don Bosco Technological Center salvaged third place after beating the University of San Carlos 4-1 via a shootout after a 1-1 draw in regulation. /
MIGHTY MAGIS. Members and coaching staff of the SHSAteneo de Cebu dedicate their victory to the Almighty after winning the Cesafi high school football finals.