By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Reporter

Ceres’ UFL ascent a remarkable feat

Posted on July 31, 2015

BACOLOD-BASED club Ceres-La Salle FC trumpeted its first year in United Football League (UFL) Division 1 in grand fashion by winning the title right away. And for one local football observer, considering how the club was very active in recruitment and showed firm commitment to what it wanted to achieve, what it has done, all told, rendered itself not totally surprising.

UFL Division 1 champion Ceres-La Salle FC -- UFL Facebook/Mark Cristino
Last Saturday, Ceres completed a highly successful first foray in Division 1 play by claiming the championship with a number of games still left in the season.

Beating Team Socceroo FC, 6-0, Ceres took its total points to 40 that made it beyond the reach of its closest pursuers, enabling it to bag the League title even if the season is still ongoing.

The title conquest came a little over a year after ruling Division 2 that promoted it to Dvision 1.

“What Ceres has done is very remarkable, indeed,” said Ryan Fenix, resident football analyst of and author of the column Rampaging Fullback, in an interview.

“At the start of the season, I didn’t think they would win it immediately, but I guess they proved me and most people wrong,” added Mr. Fenix, who also calls UFL games on TV for Sports5.

The analyst said credit should be given to Ceres for assembling a very formidable group of players, and for these players making the necessary sacrifices for the greater good of the team.

“I thought they had good quality players. But can they play together as a team? Can they gel as one unit, with all the stars and the egos? I guess they answered with an emphatic, ‘Yes’,” Mr. Fenix said.

Bannering the Ceres club is a mix of international and local players, including Spaniards Adrian Gallardo Valdes -- the league’s leading scorer -- and Bienvenido Marañon and Philippize Azkals members Manny Ott, Juani Guirado, Paul Mulders, Martin Steuble and Patrick Reichelt.

With its deep lineup, Ceres practically led the league from start to finish.

He said that seeing how Ceres has proven itself as a “game-changer,” it puts pressure on the rest of the field to look at their respective teams and assess their competitiveness relative to what Ceres has done and others who may follow suit.

Meanwhile, the race for second place in League play got further tricky after currently joint second-place teams Global FC and Loyola Meralco Sparks FC drew, 2-2, in their key match Wednesday night.

Needing to win to get the upperhand, both Global (9-5-2) and Loyola (10-2-4) came out slugging but eventually forced each other to a stalemate, leaving the two teams tied with 32 points each heading to the crucial weekend games.

Another team, Kaya FC (10-1-5), also padded its cause by winning over Socceroo, 7-0, to take its total points to 31.

While the top prize for the domestic league title has been settled with Ceres lifting the trophy, ending up second still carries much weight as it could afford one to qualify for next year’s Asian Football Confederation Cup along with the UFL champion.

In the event Ceres also wins the UFL Cup this year, the second-place team in League play gets a qualifier slot in Asia’s secondary club football tournament.