SportsUAAP: DLSU Women’s Football clinches crown, ends Season 79 unbeaten
UAAP: DLSU Women’s Football clinches crown, ends Season 79 unbeaten

DLSU Women’s Football clinched the UAAP Football crown after defeating the UST Golden Tigresses, 3-1, to complete its sweep of Season 79 and claim its first title in seven years. Kyra Dimaandal scored the first goal of the game at the 56th minute, followed by an equalizer at the 73’ mark by Hazel Lustan of UST. Eventually, Sara Castaneda and Inna Palacios sealed the win for DLSU at the 88’ and 90+3’ (penalty) marks, respectively.

Goalless first half

La Salle controlled the game in the first 15 minutes, but nevertheless, the Golden Tigresses challenged DLSU’s defense and held on.

The first on-target opportunity for DLSU was at the 11th minute after Kyla Inquig attempted to head in a pass from Irish Navaja. Unfortunately for the Lasallians, the header was easily deflected by a UST defender. Several opportunities were made from both teams in the next 10 minutes but none were able to capitalize.

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Navaja was a focal player as she gave the Green-and-White several goal chances in the first half. She led the attack on the left wing with two consecutive goal attempts at the 29’ and 30’ marks which were saved by UST goalkeeper Nicole Reyes.

There was  close call for the Lasallians at the 34th minute as Jan Cleofe was able to breeze through the defense and fire from inside the box. Unfortunately for the team from España, Cleofe’s shot bounced off the post.

Rachelle Sanchez had another shot attempt a minute before the halftime whistle which was deflected by Palacios to keep the game goalless.

Physical second half

The final half of the season started off at a frenetic pace as both teams were eager to score. In the 47th minute, UST’s Lustan went down inside the box after she was bumped by DLSU’s Mariell Tejada, a member of the league’s team of the year. UST called for a penalty to no avail. Mary Indac of UST was then called for a foul inside the box on the other end after clashing with DLSU’s Cristine Duran.

The first goal of the game came from DLSU’s Dimaandal at the 56th minute. After breaking through her defenders, the tournament’s eventual Best Striker awardee received a lob through ball from a teammate. Dimaandal then headed the ball up from a rushing Reyes. The perfectly timed move was able to allow Dimaandal to evade Reyes and score her 11th goal of the season.

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The Golden Tigresses answered back with Indac leading the way. The striker used her pace to rattle the DLSU defenders. At the 64th minute, she had a chance of leveling the score after going one-on-one with a Lasallian defender, but her shot attempt was easily saved by Palacios.

The pace of the game seemed to wear on the players of UST as a couple of Golden Tigresses needed treatment due to cramps. Head coach Hans Smit reacted to this a few minutes later by using his first substitution of the game as Nicole Andaya made way for Chelo Hodges at the 69th minute.

Unlike some of her teammates who needed treatment, Hazel Lustan’s fatigue never wavered as she produced a brilliant run to get past two defenders en route for the equalizer. Lustan’s finish was unstoppable as she sent the ball above Palacios at the 73rd minute and into the back of the net. UST came close to getting another goal as Charisa Lemoran produced a curling free kick near the goal line which hit the crossbar

At the 78th minute, Nina Arrieta was subbed out due to injury as Thea Conception replaced her. 10 minutes later, La Salle got the second goal of the game through Castaneda. Navaja ran down the left flank and produced a perfectly placed cross to Castaneda. The sophomore connected with the ball and scored her fifth goal of the season after being left unmarked. “I was getting cramps towards the end so during that run I could feel myself cramping up. But Irish kept dribbling it so I just kept running and she made the pass, which Kyra left. It was an open goal and I just took the shot.”

In added time, DLSU was awarded a penalty and the graduating Palacios calmly took it to score the final goal of the game. “I told coach I’ve always wanted to score for La Salle before I graduate and I think penalty lang yung chance,” Palacios shared after the game.

Individual awards

Earlier today, DLSU Men’s Football also received the Fair Play Award as Jed Diamante and Noel Brago were named to the UAAP Men’s Football Team of the Year.

Six players from DLSU were part of the UAAP Women’s Football XI, namely Palacios, Dimaandal, Metillo, Tejada, Castañeda, and Navaja. Meanwhile, several Lasallians were recognized at the end of the tournament for their individual play. Graduating co-captain Palacios was named Best Goalkeeper while Castaneda was named Best Midfielder. On the other hand, Metillo bagged the Best Defender award, while Dimaandal was named Best Striker. Last but not the least, Inquig was recognized as the Most Valuable Player of Season 79 to cap off La Salle’s unbeaten run.

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