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UAAP: Green, Lady Woodpushers grind through opening half, aim for a strong Season 84 finish

The DLSU Woodpushers opened their UAAP Season 84 campaign on the right track last June 1 at the Far Eastern University Engineering Building after a three-year hiatus. At the end of the first round, the Green Woodpushers recorded three wins, one loss, and a tie. Meanwhile, the Lady Woodpushers scored a 3-3 win-loss record heading into the Final Four.

Ahead of this season’s competition, the Lady Woodpushers were looking to snatch back the title after bagging a second-place finish back in Season 82—led by Woman FIDE Master (WFM) and now team captain Samantha Revita. Meanwhile, the Green Woodpushers look to improve their sixth place finish last timeout under the leadership of team captain Daniel Lemi.  

DLSU head coach Susan Neri highlighted that this season had a different setup. In the previous season, the team would play a single match a day, but in Season 84, the team plays at least two matches per game day. This prompted changes with regard to the Woodpushers’ preparations, “The biggest challenge [was] moving away from our usual competition routines and adapting to the new tournament setup where we have to do faster preparations due to shorter competition duration.” 

Opening jitters

The Green Woodpushers—composed of Lemi, Cyril Telesforo, Diomel Escutin, and Jester Sistoza—opened their season with a match against the UST Growling Tigers. Unfortunately, they dropped their first game, 0.5-3.5. Telesforo was the lone Woodpusher who was able to force a draw on Board 2 against UST’s Melito Ocsan Jr.

On the other hand, the Lady Woodpushers had a contrasting start. Revita spearheaded the team composed of Taryn Espiritu, Francois Magpil, and Sara Olendo and won their opener against Adamson, 3-1. The lone point of the Lady Falcons came from Queenie Samarita, who went against Espiritu on Board 1.

Fighting back

After struggling in their opening game against defending champions FEU Tamaraws, DLSU shifted strategies and fielded Francis Guimalan for Escutin. The adjustment worked wonders as the Green and White dominated, 3-1. FIDE Master (FM) Jeth Morado was the only Tamaraw that scored after going up against  Guimalan on Board 1. 

After capturing their first win of the season, the Woodpushers became motivated to continue competing against the tournament’s fierce competition, “We were quite frustrated since we were almost swept by UST with only a score of 0.5/4. [But] our devastating loss served as a wake up call,” shared Lemi. 

Sealing moves

In their match against ADMU, women’s team member Espiritu scored a point for La Salle against Ateneo’s Merlene Membrere on Board 1. Meanwhile, Revita faltered against Arena Grand Master Alexis Osena on Board 2. Magpilay then grabbed a point against Blue Eagle Glesit Taroy on Board 3, while the match between DLSU’s Olendo and Laila Nadera of Ateneo on board 4 ended with a stalemate. The games eventually secured the Lady Woodpushers a win, defeating their archrivals with a 2.5-1.5 scoreline.

However, the Lady Woodpushers’ two-game winning streak came to an end after succumbing to the NU Lady Bulldogs, 1-3. DLSU’s lone points were scored by Magpilay against World International Master Kylen Mordido on Board 3. 

High note

The Green Woodpushers faced the UP Fighting Maroons to begin day three. UP’s Jan Batulan and FIDE Master Stephen Pangilingan scored one point each against DLSU’s Guimalan and Escutin on Boards 1 and 2, respectively. The match up resulted in a 2-all stalemate. Meanwhile, Telesfor and Lemi won DLSU’s other two points to tie the game.

Capping off the third day, Guimalan, Telesforo, Lemi, and Sistorza all scored a point for DLSU against Alexander Santos, Jamie De Verya, Paolo Villa, and Joshua Tan of the ADMU Blue Eagles, 4-0. This win secured the Green Woodpushers a third-place spot in the team standings.

Home stretch

Ending the first round, the Green Woodpushers solidified their push for a podium finish as they defeated the AdU Soaring Falcons, 3.5 -0.5. Veteran Lemi forced a draw against Matt Ramos on Board 3, which resulted in a 0.5-all finish. Escutin then won over Jolan Bollobar on Board 1. Meanwhile, Telesfor grabbed a point against Alfonzo Olendo on Board 2 as Sistoza won over Jalen Lacambra on Board 4. 

On the other hand, the Lady Tamaraws outplayed the Lady Woodpushers and won the match, 2.5-1.5. Espiritu dropped a point against Bea Mendoza on Board 1, while Revita bowed down to FEU’s Divine Luna on Board 2. Magpilay and Rizalyn Tejada then ended with a draw in Board 3. DLSU’s lone point was secured by Olendo, who defeated Viona Nepascua on Board 4.

The Lady Woodpushers finished their last two games with a victory against the UST, 2.5-1.5,  and a loss against UP, 1.5-2.5. This puts their team at second place in the standings after six outings and a 3-3 win-loss record. 

Looking ahead

After finishing the elimination round, Revita seemed positive about her team’s performance, “We are contented naman and happy with our performance sa first round robin kasi we know na we prepared well and really gave our best.” Meanwhile, after tediously training for this moment, Lemi expressed that the team intends to continue their momentum to garner wins at the latter part of the season, “We hope to maintain our spot in the podium by studying both our games and the opponents.”

A challenging road awaits both the Green and Lady Woodpushers in the next few days, but it seems that both teams are willing and able to achieve a podium finish at the end of the season. 

The Green and Lady Woodpushers are looking to finish strong as they continue their last matchups on Wednesday, June 15, at the Far Eastern University Engineering Building.

By Raphael Serrano

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