The Loyola Meralco Sparks started their pre-season campaign with an impressive win against Belmont-Deft Touch FC in the Stallion-Laguna Invitational Cup yesterday.
Meralco had a slow and shaky start with Deft Touch presented with a few chances early in the match. After several scares, Connor Tacagni broke the deadlock 30 minutes into the game. Phil Younghusband’s corner landed right into the path of Tacagni, who headed the ball into the net. However, the celebration was short-lived as Nathan DaRosa of Deft Touch responded with a goal from a free kick to tie the game.
A very aggressive Sparks emerged in the second-half. Phil missed a free kick from outside the box but luckily, Samuel took advantage of the scramble to slot the ball to the right corner and double the lead for the Sparks.
With the momentum in favor of Loyola, a barrage of attacks followed. Tahj Minniecon led several chances from the left wing while Ashley Flores gave the opposition fits from the right flank. As the final whistle drew closer, back-to-back goals by the Sparks sealed the victory. Samuel crossed to Minniecon and the winger chipped it in to secure the win.
Three minutes after Minniecon’s goal, the icing on the cake arrived. James Younghusband carved out another chance, setting up Phil for a powerful strike from inside the box to make it four. The dying minutes saw Tonaldo Appiah of Deft Touch sneak past Loyola’s defense for a consolation.
With Meralco’s 4-2 win over Deft Touch, head coach, Aris Caslib, praised the team’s effort and performance.
“I think the players really followed the game plan in the second half. We adjusted by defending very high. We were able to throw the balls the way we wanted it to happen. We were able to finish the match as early as the 70th minute already,” said Caslib.
Despite the variety of goal scorers, Caslib commended Ric Padilla’s exceptional feat.
“Everyone played well. We just have to consider Ric also. Remember he’s our third keeper but he played well.”
Sparks will face Kaya-Makati FC on Saturday, 1:00pm at the Binan Football Stadium.