Both teams perhaps would’ve been happy with a draw at the University of Makati. 92 minutes into the contest, a scoreless first leg looked all but a formality. But instead, from the left flank, Stephan Schrock produced a bit of magic to hand Ceres Negros a 1-0 advantage over Kaya Makati in the Philippines Football League semifinals .
“I cannot really remember what happened. I just knew I had one thing left in the final minute, so I got the ball and took it. I’m happy to give the team the winner because they deserve it under such [difficult] circumstances,” said Man of the Match Stephan Schrock after the game. It was an outstanding bit of skill. The standout attacker kept the ball from Marvin Angeles, cut inside Janrick Soriano, turned the corner on Alfred Osei, and right before he was to be closed down, poked the ball past Ref Cuaresma.
Just moments before, it was the home team that almost opened the scoring in similarly spectacular fashion. Seemingly cornered at the end line, Robert Lopez Mendy sliced through two defenders, angled for a shot, and fired a rocket that cannoned off the underside of the crossbar. How different the match could’ve been. In the first half, instead of the goal frame, it was Roland Muller who denied the striker. Off his line quickly, the goalkeeper did well to deny Robert on a clearcut one-on-one. It was the best chance of an opening period that saw quite a few chances.
The visitors threatened first through Omid Nazari. The Ceres midfielder did well to receive a pass in behind Makati’s defense, but could only manage to shoot narrowly wide. Later, Iain Ramsay’s volley halfway through the period forced Ref Cuaresma into his only save of the period. The start of the second half started in almost perfect fashion for Negros. From a free kick, Carli De Murga connected at the far post, looping the ball over Cuaresma, and onto the crossbar. When the ball returned to Carli for the rebound header, Ref was in position to tip it over for a corner.
The visitors went on to control most of the possession in the second half, but without really creating clear cut opportunities. In the final minute of regulation, Lopez Mendy almost snatched a famous victory, only for Schrock to steal the show.
“First of all it’s really frustrating. For the whole 90 minutes, I don’t think we allowed them to settle for even a short amount of time. The energy was there. The aggressiveness was there. The willingness to really take this game away from Ceres — it was all there. I don’t know what else we need to do. We created lots of chances. But it’s just — we didn’t get the result,” said Kaya Makati’s frustrated head coach, Noel Marcaida.
Ceres Negros now takes a 1-0 advantage back to Bacolod, where the two teams will clash once more on Saturday, December 9, 7pm, at the Panaad Stadium.
“We’re happy with the little advantage we have for the second leg, but we know Kaya will do everything to win it. You can be sure we’ll be ready to do everything to win as well,” said Schrock.