As part of their preparation for the upcoming second semester of the UAAP, a number of teams frequently join the annual Philippine University Games (UniGames). Last October 24 to 30, five DLSU varsity teams traveled to this year’s UniGames host city, Dumaguete, to test out their skills and chemistry prior to their respective seasons.
Out of the five teams, the DLSU Green Woodpushers and Lady Woodpushers were the only groups able to bring home the gold. Both chess teams will look to sustain momentum until the opening of the Season 79 Chess Meet. The Lady Woodpushers will look to earn back-to-back UAAP titles while their counterparts in the men’s division are keen on bouncing back from last season’s third place finish.
Meanwhile, the Green Spikers ended their UniGames campaign in fifth place. The team last advanced to the UAAP Final Four in 2013, and will look to turn things around this season. Their female counterparts, the Lady Spikers, managed to finish as second runner-up. The DLSU Men’s Football Team fell short and only managed to finish with a silver medal after falling to the UP Fighting Maroons in the finals.
Men’s XI settle for second
The Men’s Football Team faced off against the defending UAAP champions, the UP Fighting Maroons, for its first match of the tournament. It was a match wherein La Salle got dominated by the team from Katipunan the entire game, but managed to escape with a 0-0 draw.
The second game yielded a win against Siliman University with a scoreline of 4-0. “That was when we started getting our groove, we started functioning better as a unit,” second year player Martin Alegre explains.
Coach Hans Peter-Smit began tinkering with his lineup to test his rookies. The team bowed to the College of Saint Benilde (CSB) in the last game of eliminations with a 1-0 score. La Salle eventually faced CSB again in the semifinals where both teams came at each other with full force, with the former controlling majority of the game. The contest eventually reached penalty kicks. DLSU emerged victorious with the heroics of goalkeeper Kerbi Almonte as he managed to save two penalties. In the finals, the team succumbed to the Fighting Maroons, receiving a 5-1 beating which was attributed to the team’s fatigue.
It was not the result the team wanted. However, they were able to progress from off the pitch as well. Alegre says that it was a good experience for him and the entire team since they were able to bond with each other and improve their team chemistry. He pointed out that the rookies were able to put their shyness behind them and be comfortable with their senior teammates.
Alegre mentioned that they will definitely miss the marks of key players who graduated last season, namely Gelo Diamante, last year’s team captain, and other graduates such as Gregory Yang and Gerald Layumas. Despite such gaps left behind, Alegre proudly says that this year’s seniors are stepping up, thus allowing the players to properly gel.
Feeling out process for Lady Spikers
It was a bittersweet competition for the Lady Spikers, who landed in third place. They defeated their first three opponents, Holy Angels University-Pampanga, Siliman University, and University of San Carlos to sweep the eliminations. Coming into the semifinals, they faced a formidable opponent in the UST Growling Tigresses. The Growling Tigresses proved to be too much for the Lady Spikers as they lost in four sets. “Tumiklop kami kaagad,” said Michelle Cobb, setter for the Lady Spikers. She explained coach Ramil De Jesus’ sentiments, saying, “Parang we were scared, which I completely understand kasi parang di talaga kami lumaban.”
Their inability to play as a cohesive team was a problem, especially against an intact team like UST. However, they were able to bounce back and win their battle-for-third matchup against the UE Lady Warriors in four sets. For Cobb, who played for the reserve team prior to the UniGames, expectations and pressure for her as well as the team are high. “It’s part of it,” she pointed out. “Parang you make the pressure your motivation to do better and to be like our seniors and step up to their level. Yun, dahan dahan nalang and see what happens from there.”
On to the next one
As the pre-season continues, the Lady Spikers will continue their preparation for the UAAP. Although a number of players still play in the PSL, Cobb says De Jesus makes sure that the players in the PSL are still able to train with the team. “Akala namin, okay na, but then sobrang layo pa namin. We have so much more to work on before the season starts,” Cobb stated.
The men’s football team played in a number of friendly matches prior to the UniGames. The team now trains everyday as it is stepping up its preparations. Alegre concluded, saying, “Our fitness will get better, our touches will get better with the ball because we have more training sessions, so it would really help us throughout the season.”
The offseason preparations of the second semester teams have shifted up a gear with the conclusion of the UniGames. The Green-and-White squads have been able to assess their strengths and weaknesses, which they will work upon as they seek to keep the General Championship in Taft.