Inna Palacios and Meryll Ledesma’s respective journeys with the prestigious DLSU Football program have come to an end. The co-captains left their mark by giving the team from Taft its first title in seven years while finishing UAAP Season 79 unbeaten.
Throughout the whole competition, La Salle showcased its well fortified defense which included Ledesma as a centerback and Palacios as goalkeeper. Palacios proved her worth along with her stellar defenders as she ended the season as part of the competition’s Team of the Year and was named Best Goalkeeper for the fourth time in her collegiate career.
Success in the field
A UAAP championship is one of the most coveted titles for a collegiate athlete. After coming up short last season against the UP Lady Maroons in the finals, Palacios was able to enjoy her last moments as a player of the Green-and-White with her first championship.
“Speechless. I’m just so proud and happy that Meryll and I led the team to where we are now right now with our all hard work,” Palacios narrated after her last game with DLSU.
— The LaSallian (@TheLaSallian) May 7, 2017
To seal the title over the UST Golden Tigresses in the finals, Palacios converted a penalty in added time to extend the Lasallians’ lead, 3-1. Despite being a goalkeeper, she wanted to score a goal for La Salle prior to her graduation. “She told me in practice, ‘If there’s a penalty, let me take it,’ and I [said] okay,” said sophomore midfielder Sara Castaneda, the designated spot kick taker of the team.
The stellar play of Palacios has also taken her internationally as a regular member of the Philippine Women’s National Team. Palacios, the number one goalkeeper of the Malditas, led the team to its first qualification since 2003 to the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Women’s Asian Cup to be held at Jordan in 2018.
Before tearing her Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and missing Season 77, Ledesma was a key defender of DLSU. In her comeback season the following year, she was utilized as a striker, but was brought back to her primary position for her final year with the Green-and-White.
Ledesma emphasized that both roles were significantly different, but praised head coach Hans Smit’s program. “What’s best in coach Hans’ program is that he makes everyone flexible in a way that if someone gets injured, you can easily fill in and you would know how to play that position,” she explained.
The veteran has gone a long way from her injury, all the way to getting back into the team’s rotation in their title-clinching campaign. Ledesma displayed stability on defense in as early as the preseason and carried her form all the way up to the finals..
As an outgoing member of the team, Ledesma hopes that her teammates will continue to keep the animo spirit burning within them. She gave her message to the remaining players of the Green-and-White and said, “Always remember that hard work pays off. No matter what, at the end of the day, kung hindi mo pinaghirapan yun (if you don’t work for it), you won’t be able to get what you want.”
The co-captains expressed their heartfelt gratitude to the people who have supported them all throughout their stay in Taft. “[An] endless thank you for everyone who supported La Salle—who supported the team. Through thick and thin you guys were our strength and we wouldn’t be where we are without everyone,” Palacios concluded.