For the second year running, the DLSU Lady Booters placed second in the UAAP Women’s Football Tournament after being overpowered twice by the FEU Lady Tamaraws in the Championship’s best-of-three series held last February 21 and 24 at the Moro Lorenzo Football Field in Ateneo de Manila University.
During the elimination rounds, the Lady Booters played defensively against FEU’s lethal attacking combos. The tactic worked well as it paid with a couple of goalless draws. A defensive meltdown in the early stages of Game One, however, sank the Lady Booters into a cushioned deficit.
Only goals count
FEU dominated the first game, 5-0.
Loreta Ladero opened the floodgates for last year’s third-placed team. Soon after, Lady Tamaraw Barbie Sobredo squeezed through Miel Ampil to fire a shot far from DLSU Goalkeeper Inna Palacios’ reach to give FEU a comfortable 2-0 lead in the first seven minutes of the match.
Palacios exhibited her goalkeeping skills in the remainder of the first half to keep FEU’s advantage within reach.
In the second half, the ladies from Taft tested the Lady Tamaraws’ defense. Striker Chermaine Guancia almost lifted La Salle’s hopes by getting the ball to go inside the goal, but it was warded off as she committed a foul on FEU Goalkeeper Mae Sullano first.
Another window opened as Guancia tried to score at the 70 minute mark. The ball almost went in as it passed the goal keeper’s gloves, but Sullano managed to stop the ball.
FEU erased doubt on the outcome of the match with an 83rd minute strike from Jessa Sumagpao. With the win, Ladero and Sobredo both scored a goal each to rack up a five-goal whiplash.
Despite FEU’s domination, the Lady Booters gave the Lady Tamaraws a fight.The Taft-based squad had a lot of chances to score as the team tallied seven shots on target, one more than FEU. Both squads’ shot attempts were also at par. La Salle’s aggression was also reflected on the number of corner kicks, as the Lady Booters had three as opposed to the Lady Tamaraws’ two.
Three days later, La Salle and FEU returned to the pitch for Game Two of the Women’s Football Finals. Sobredo and Ladero once again found the back of the net against to win FEU’s eight football championship crown. The deadly duo combined for six goals in the series, with both scoring three apiece.
The Lady Booters, however, refused to hand the victory over to the Lady Tamaraws as the team attempted to break the FEU defense in the opening minutes of the game.
Despite having more possession of the ball this time around, the Lady Booters had no clear-cut opportunities for a goal. FEU’s sturdy backline prevented fatal shots near the goal, limiting La Salle’s attacks to free-kicks and long-range shots from outside of the penalty box.
The Lady Booters had a chance to redeem a consolation goal in the last minute of the match, but Merryl Ledesma’s shot inside the box only struck the goal’s side netting.
Sullano fired the resulting goal kick towards the La Salle half. Seconds after, the referee blew the final whistle to formally end the Season 75’s Women’s Football Tournament.
After the match, Coach Hans Smit expressed satisfaction with his girls’ performance. “They’ve overachieved themselves,” he claimed.
With a rookie-laden lineup and a fourth place ranking before the second round, the Lady Booters reached the finals after key wins against Season 74 Champion UST and Ateneo. For Smit, it is already an achievement that he himself is proud of.
After finishing with silver medals in the last two seasons, the Lady Booters grabbed a year’s worth of experience to bid for the crown next season.