After winning the UAAP Season 79 title with an unblemished record, the DLSU Women’s Football Team was able to duplicate this incredible feat by going undefeated in the inaugural season of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) Women’s League.
“As a senior, it’s the best feeling that we’ve ever accomplished because leaving the team and La Salle, we ended it with a bang.” said UAAP Season 79 team captain, Meryll Ledesma.
Eleven teams participated in the inaugural season of the PFF Women’s League and it featured a mixture of teams from the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), the now defunct United Football League, and alumni teams. A double-round robin setup was used but Kaya F.C. pulled-out midway through the season thus voiding all games played against them.
DLSU played against all teams in the first round but the format changed in the second round as the teams were divided into two groups. The Green-and-White was grouped with Outkast F.C., Hiraya F.C., Green Archers United F.C., and the Younghusband Football Academy.
The first round began back in November 12, 2016 and ended on February 4, 2017 while the second round kicked-off just last October 14. The last matchday was played on November 18, but the championship was already won by La Salle early in the second round as it garnered enough points to clinch the title.
As soon as the UAAP Season 79 ended, the PFF Women’s League resumed but the status of the eight graduating seniors to continue playing for La Salle was still in doubt. The eight seniors, including Ledesma, thought that head coach Hans Peter-Smit would send them to Green Archers United F.C., so that he could accommodate the Season 80 roster, but Smit retained them. “I think it’s more of a thank you gift for the seniors and we’re so thankful that coach still gave us the privilege, the chance to play as a team again.” said Ledesma.
Even though the graduating players were not playing heavy minutes, they still provided the leadership and acted as a guide for the younger players in order for them to be familiar with Smit’s system. “They’re doing well, but then I think they need more time, more training to take in the system, and how we’re supposed to play, the pride na hindi magpapatalo to whoever.”
Ledesma also stated that it is important for the newcomers to be comfortable with everyone this early and that they should work hard and be disciplined so that they won’t have any regrets when their collegiate careers come to an end in the future.
The Green-and-White started their title run with a convincing 4-1 win against the Younghusband Football Academy and followed it up by smashing archrivals ADMU Lady Eagles, 6-0. Victories against Hiraya F.C. and the FEU Lady Tamaraws made it four wins in as many games for La Salle. The winning momentum continued in 2017 as the Lasallians geared up for the upcoming UAAP Season 79 by also defeating the UST Golden Tigresses and the UP Lady Maroons.
Almost a month after clinching the UAAP Season 79 championship, the Green-and-White defeated Outkast F.C. to resume their play in the PFF Women’s League. The team ended on top of the standings as the Green-and-White finished the first round strong with triumphs over Fuego España F.C. and Green Archers United F.C.
La Salle’s 3-0 victory against Outkast F.C. in the second round clinched the title with three games left to play. Even though the championship was in the bag, the women’s team did not let up as they were able to trounce Hiraya F.C. and Green Archers United F.C. towards the end of the campaign.
In their last game of the tournament, the Lasallians overpowered the Younghusband Football Academy, 16-0, with Kyra Dimaandal scoring four goals and Nicole Andaya adding a hat-trick. Kyla Inquig captured a brace with newcomers Anicka Castañeda and Bea Delos Reyes doing the same as the Taft-based squad finished the inaugural tournament unbeaten.
The Taft-based squad scored a total of 59 goals as Dimaandal led the way by netting 21 goals. Their excellent defense was also visible throughout the tournament as they only conceded seven goals and earned seven clean sheets. Inna Palacios was named the tournament’s best goalkeeper while Sara Castañeda bagged the Most Valuable Player award.
Since losing to the Lady Maroons back in the Finals of UAAP Season 78, the Green-and-White has not lost a single match as they swept both UAAP Season 79 and the PFF Women’s League, winning 22 consecutive matches, en route to two championships.
With Ledesma ineligible to play for the Green-and-White due to graduation next season, Dimaandal was named as the new team captain and Ledesma simply told her to always lead by example and to put everyone together.
Castañeda, meanwhile, shared that the PFF Women’s League will have a positive effect on the team’s preparation for the upcoming UAAP season, wherein they will come in as the defending champions. Although they are getting games under their belt, the team has been facing mostly alumni teams with only the Lady Eagles, Golden Tigresses, and Lady Maroons coming from the UAAP. “We won’t really know how the UAAP teams are playing until we reach UAAP, but it’s okay because at least we’re getting games before we actually play.”