The DLSU Women’s Football Team ended their UAAP Season 78 campaign in second place, a huge improvement after coming in at fourth and fifth place in Seasons 77 and 76, respectively.
Prior to that, La Salle finished at the podium in every edition of the competition from 1996 to 2013 (excluding its suspension from 2006-2007), according to records taken from the Office of Sports Development (OSD), which date back to Season 59. In that 17-year span, the team managed to bag eight championships, four of which they won consecutively.
Coming into this season, the team was tagged as the early favorites to contend for the championship after winning the UniGames and earning a runner-up finish in the 2015 PFF Women’s Cup. Rookies Sara Castañeda and Shannon Arthur teaming up with veterans Kyla Inquig and Irish Navaja immediately boosted the team’s offense. Goalkeeper Inna Palacios and defender Regine Metillo provided grit and stability on defense, as La Salle lived up to its billing as perennial contenders in Season 78.
With notable wins in the elimination round over the defending champions, the FEU Lady Tamaraws, and eventual champions, the UP Lady Maroons, the Green-and-White ended the elimination round as the top seed, with a 6-2-0 win-draw-loss record. With La Salle and UP ending the elimination round at first and second, respectively, both squads advanced to the winner-take-all championship match.
However, the Lady Maroons would prevail against La Salle when it mattered most, claiming the title after clinching a 2-1 victory over La Salle behind goals from Cristina Delos Reyes and Angeliza Sta. Clara. Castañeda scored the lone goal for the Green-and-White to tie the game but Sta. Clara’s goal sealed the match for UP.
Despite being upset by the Lady Maroons in this season’s final, the future looks bright for the youthful La Salle squad. Palacios, Metillo, Navaja, Inquig, Castañeda, and Arthur were named to the UAAP Women’s Football Team of the Season. Palacios once again received Best Goalkeeper honors, while Metillo was named this season’s Best Defender. Castañeda capped off a stellar first year with the Rookie of the Year and Best Midfielder awards, while also sharing co-Golden Boot honors with Arthur, who was also adjudged as this season’s Best Striker.
Since the team won’t lose any players to graduation, long-time mentor Hans Smit can now have a virtually seamless transition heading into next season. As a result, the team has the opportunity to further develop its roster and build on its marvelous cohesion before Season 79 opens.