THE rain fell. Then the yellow balloons followed.
Ceres-La Salle completed its quick ascent to the top flight of the United Football League with a 6-0 shutout of Socceroo under downpour on Saturday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The Busmen banked on a great start and an even better finish to lift the Division 1 trophy only a year after ruling the second tier.
“This is very sweet for us,” said Ceres coach Ali Go, whose squad also clinched an automatic berth in the group stage of the Asian Football Confederation Cup next year after failing to enter early this year following a loss in the playoff.
“We felt we were robbed of playing in the group stage. We want to prove it now that we belong, not just the playoff spot.”
Ceres, named after the Bacolod-based bus company owned by Ricky and Leo Rey Yanson, won for the 13th time in 15 outings to rule the top flight with still two matches to spare.
“Every time we represent Ceres, we’re always gunning for a championship,” Go said of his side, a two-time national club champion and UFL Football Alliance Cup titlist.
That left the rest of the field fighting for crumbs, a battle for second place among Global FC, Kaya FC, and Loyola Meralco.
Nate Burkey fired a brace, while Orman Okunaiaya, Marwin Angeles, and Jeffrey Christiaens were also on target for Ceres, which also benefited from an early own goal from Socceroo to score the anticlimactic win.
Only needing a draw to clinch the title, Ceres fielded basically its Team B with Marwin and Marvin Angeles and goalkeeper Ed Sacapaño as surprise starters and Spanish sensations Adrian Gallardo and Bienvenido Marañon coming off the bench and seeing limited action.
Still, the Busmen zoomed with two goals in the first half, before keeping their foot on the gas pedal with four strikes after intermission before their adoring fans.
A simple awarding ceremony ensued where Laos FC was also crowned Division 2 champion after an unbeaten 12-match run to earn a spot in the top tier next year.