The DLSU Lady Booters were able to hold off the UP Fighting Maroons’ charge in their playoff bout, 1-0, earlier tonight, May 13, at the UP Diliman Football Pitch to book their return to the UAAP Women’s Football tournament Finals.
Lyka Teves led the way for the Taft-based squad as her decisive penalty goal early on kicked off the team’s rapid-fire play. This was coupled with Mari Layacan’s and MJ Villacin’s consistent control of the midfield that aided the win.
Early bird gets the worm
Off the whistle, it was evident that both teams were hungry for a Finals berth, as intense defense and grit-and-grind offense was displayed by the two squads. Controlled tackling, a plethora of shots on target, and goals conceded was the story of the first half as an early mishap by the Fighting Maroons eventually led to their downfall.
In the 12th minute, DLSU’s Teves was awarded a penalty kick—which she scored with ease to put La Salle on top for the remainder of the match. The penalty was a result of UP’s aggressive play, with the team’s defenders giving it their all in hopes of a victory. Nevertheless, the home team would not back down from the challenge as their resilient effort made the first half a neck-and-neck affair.
UP gunners Bianca Torres and Aurea Reaso did all they could to set their team up for success, but La Salle’s defense was just too much for the Fighting Maroons. The referees’ call for a three-minute extra time worked wonders for the Taft-based squad as their control of the game kept the matchup in their favor, 1-0, heading into the second half.
Holding the fort
After a demoralizing first half for the UP Fighting Maroons, they looked to knot the game up and stay within striking range of a finals berth. Forwards Torres and Kamea Mangrobang, set the team up with systematic possessions in hopes of a goal. This led to an aggressive UP defense to open the second half as a tightly-contested affair.
The Lady Booters displayed fortitude as they didn’t let an early lead translate into a play of complacency. Starting forward Layacan’s draining defense kept La Salle’s lead intact which resulted in multiple UP bodies falling. With more time passing, the rest of Layacan’s teammates followed her steady play to keep DLSU in control.
In the 64th minute, UP looked to regroup as their fast-paced offense caused them to make careless mistakes—one of which almost allowed DLSU to get a close shot off. As consecutive slip-ups from the home team did not rattle their intentions to score, La Salle’s defenses—spearheaded by Anna Delos Reyes and Tenelyn Otom—made sure that UP wouldn’t score a clutch goal. The Lady Booters’ offense stayed red-hot to score. Even after nine minutes of added time was caused by several stoppages, the Diliman-based squad’s season and last chance to the finals was taken away after a tough loss, 1-0.
DLSU Head Coach Hans-Peter Smit shared what he told the team before the match, “I told them it’s either win or go home. UP is the only team we haven’t beaten…this is the time to beat them.” Talking about their Finals preparations, the lauded mentor said that they will be using Mother’s Day tomorrow as a rest day before they go back to the drawing board on Monday for a week of preparations.
With the win, the DLSU Lady Booters keep their championship hopes afloat as they set up a UAAP Season 85 Finals matchup at 5 pm on May 21 at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex Football Field against the FEU Lady Tamaraws—who booked their ticket after drawing the Green and White in their last game. La Salle is within striking range of a historic four-peat after winning the last three UAAP Women’s Football championships.