Whether it’s playing for the DLSU Women’s Football Team or the Philippine Women’s National Team, Inna Palacios has always been a steady presence at the goal. Her positioning, reflexes, and calmness inside the box has helped her bag the UAAP Best Goalkeeper award four times and has made her one of the most established goalkeepers in the country.
Palacios entered La Salle five years ago, after being recruited by head coach Hans Peter-Smit. In her career with the Green-and-White, the former Colegio San Agustin alumna has seen her fair share of ups and downs. She started off her rookie year finishing in second place, after losing to FEU in the finals. The Lasallians struggled in the next two seasons as they ended up in fifth and fourth place, respectively. Things started going in the right direction in 2016, when Palacios was able to help La Salle get back to the finals. While they would eventually succumb to the UP Lady Maroons, 2-1, the team had a renewed hope entering Season 79.
During this year’s Philippine Football Federation (PFF) Women’s League, Palacios saw limited action as she was being rested by Smit in preparation for her last UAAP season. “I’m not giving her any starting opportunities because I want my team to be healthy. Too many injuries already,” Smit shared at that time.
The move proved to pay off as Palacios was able to lead the team to an undefeated season. Before their campaign, the fifth-year player was named co-captain alongside another graduating senior, Meryll Ledesma. The two formed the core of La Salle’s stingy defense. Palacios accumulated four clean sheets and only conceded five goals en route to the finals. “Speechless. I’m just so proud and happy that Meryll and I led the team to where we are right now with all our hard work,” said Palacios after clinching the championship.
Even before winning the UAAP championship last May 7, however, Palacios was called up to play for the national team in the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers. The tournament spanned from April 3 to April 12 and Palacios kept three clean sheets en route to qualification as the team finished second in a tough group consisting of United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Bahrain, Tajikistan and Jordan.
The veteran concluded her final season with the Green-and-White, earning the Best Goalkeeper award and the elusive championship. Palacios also scored her first and only goal of her UAAP career when she stepped up and took a penalty three minutes into the stoppage time in the finals against the UST Golden Tigresses. The goal sealed the win for the team from Taft as it clinched the title, 3-1. “I told coach I’ve always wanted to score for La Salle before I graduate and I think penalty lang yung chance.”
After playing five years in the UAAP, Palacios saw a massive improvement in the game. “UAAP definitely stepped up from how it was played before. Football is just there on the corner for everyone. It just gets better every year,” she added.