Despite finishing last UAAP season in the top four, the DLSU Green Booters and Lady Booters remain unsatisfied and seek to get over the hump in this year’s campaign. Both teams are still mentored by the legendary Hans Smit and they enter UAAP Season 76 with just one goal in mind: a championship.
After rattling off six consecutive wins to end the eliminations, the Green Booters finished the season with eight wins and four losses after the 12 elimination round matches. Ateneo clinched the top seed after recording just one loss together with eight wins and three draws while UP and FEU grabbed the next two spots.
Entering the semifinals with momentum, the Green Booters and Ateneo failed to score at the end of play and the game went into penalties, with La Salle coming up short, 4-3. ADMU would eventually emerge as the season’s champions in two games against UP, but this year they will be missing the services of Nick O’Donnell, the UAAP 75 Most Valuable Player and Best Goalkeeper, and a few other players due to academic deficiencies. The squad from Katipunan remains formidable though, with reigning Best Midfielder Mikko Mabanag still in the fold.
This season, despite losing starting goalkeeper Patrick Deyto, the Green Booters are confident of their chances coming into the season. “On paper, people will say FEU is the strongest team, plus Deyto left, but we are much more cohesive this year [compared to last year]. Everyone’s positive coming into the season,” shares sweeper Greggy Yang, the reigning UAAP 75 Defender of the Year.
Leading the team this year are co-captains and fourth year players Gio Diamante and Matt Nierras. Diamante, together with his younger brother Gelo and United Football League (UFL) veteran Nathan Alquiros, lead the attack for La Salle this season. Meanwhile, Nierras joins Yang, Gerald Layumas and Jhoguev Ybanez in the intact back four as they anchor the defense together with new starting goalkeeper Joshua Cruz.
When asked to name the contenders this year, Yang says, “FEU has an all-around good team, UP has great attack, UST has solid defense and Ateneo is a wildcard, but we can be sure that they won’t stop fighting.”
After two consecutive fourth place finishes which were preceded by three straight third place seasons, the Green Booters hope to win DLSU’s fourth UAAP Men’s Football championship and first since 1998 this season.
On the other hand, the Lady Booters seek to improve on their runner-up finish from last season. The Lady Booters finished the
elimination round at second place with three wins, four draws and just one loss last season, but they fell in two games to the top-ranked FEU.
The Lady Booters have lost Miel Ampil, Karla Pacificador and Monica Henson to graduation, but they still have high hopes and will be bannered by UAAP 75’s Rookie of the Year Toni Nolasco and Best Goalkeeper Inna Palacios. The Lady Booters together with FEU are the winningest teams in the UAAP Women’s Football tournament with eight championships, the last time the Lady Booters won it all was in 2010. The team’s streak of four straight championships from 2003 to 2006 remains the highlight of their tenure in the UAAP.
This season, the Lady Booters seek to bring back some of that glory and they plan on doing it with hard work. Fifth year sweeper Adrianne Yñiguez shares, “The team is hoping to bag the championship this year. All we need is for everyone to be on the same page every single game and for everyone to give their 110% every single time. Football is always a team effort and to get that championship we all have to get it together and to want it together.”