UAAP: DLSU Green, Lady Woodpushers end season with mixed results, let go of 15-year podium streak

The DLSU Green Woodpushers suffered an unfortunate ending to their UAAP Season 86 campaign after getting trounced with a 0-0-2 record on their final day, surrendering to the FEU Tamaraws and UP Fighting Maroons in similarly tight matchups both with 2.5-1.5 outcomes. Meanwhile, the Lady Woodpushers wound up to a more positive 1-1-0 denouement as they tallied a draw with the UST Growling Tigresses followed by a commanding 3.5-0.5 win against the AdU Lady Falcons.

In a disappointing campaign that halted a legacy-driven 15-year podium streak, the Lady Woodpushers humbly breezed through as the fourth-placed team of the tournament. In the Men’s division, the Green Woodpushers put up with another heartbreak as they placed second-to-the-last in this year’s edition of UAAP Chess.

Despite podium-less places, both divisions did not go home without individual awards to take back to Taft. Cyril Telesforo and Sara Olendo headlined the stash after clinching silver medals on Men’s board two and Women’s board three, respectively. Adding onto their list of accolades are Francois Magpily on Women’s board two, Kris Olvido on Men’s board four, and Francis Guimalan on Men’s board five, each cementing themselves on the bronze podium of their respective divisions.

Uneventful start

The Green Woodpushers started their weekend off slow, losing a close battle against the FEU Tamaraws, 2.5-1.5. In a match that only lasted 14 moves, Jester Sistoza was able to draw first blood for DLSU, beating FEU’s Hanz Olorsisimo in the opening stage of the game. On the contrary, a lengthy 77-move clash between National Master (NM) Telesforo and Fide Master (FM) Jeth Morado resulted in a stalemate, with neither gaining a point for their team. With their backs against the wall, the FEU Tamaraws rallied together and mounted a comeback, with National and Arena International Masters (AIM) Christian Olaybal and Jarvey Labanda winning the matchup for the Tamaraws, beating La Salle’s Daniel Lemi and Olvido, respectively.

On the other side of the venue, the Lady Woodpushers stashed a dull result in their tussle against the UST Growling Tigresses after concluding their match-up at 2-all. Checy Telesforo and Woman National Master Olendo successfully overwhelmed UST’s Josemier Panol and Rohanisah Buto on board one and three, respectively. What came next was quite the opposite as Woman National Masters Magpily and Rinoa Sadey succumbed to the España-based squad’s Princes Oncita and Patricia Bernando on board two and four, respectively, forcingly neutralizing the bout to a draw.

Contrasting results

The second match featured a similar story to its prequel for the Green Woodpushers, this time losing against the number-one ranked UP Fighting Maroons, 2.5-1.5. The Fighting Maroons started off strong with highly-ranked Fide Master Stephen Pangilinan besting Sistoza in the endgame battle to give his team the first point of the match. La Salle was able to even up the score in the next two games, with Guimalan and Lemi earning a victory and a stalemate, respectively. In the deciding match, Michael Olladas was able to push La Salle’s Diomel Escutin into resignation, sealing the win for his team.

The culminating gambit told a different story for the Lady Woodpushers as they blunted the claws of the Lady Falcons in a lopsided 3.5-0.5 affair, concluding their lackluster campaign with a victory. Magpily and Sadey made sufficient work of their opponents as they scraped past Adamson’s Phoebie Arellano and Christine Hernandez, respectively, pushing the Green and White to require only a draw to win the battle. However, Lady Woodpusher Telesforo had other plans and exacted a result more than enough to gift her team a commanding victory over Adamson, powering past Robelle De Jesus at board one in 43 moves. Last to finish, team captain Olendo exhausted every allotted minute to disallow the Marcelino-based squad a board win, closing the match altogether with a stalemate.

Looking ahead

For leading scorer Telesforo, despite the underwhelming performance of the Men’s team, there is still massive room for improvement, especially in the physical department, which he feels is an underrated part of the game. “Yung resistensya mo, yung stamina mo as a player, sobrang importante. So, maybe next season, we’ll go jogging and do other exercises para hindi mag-collapse during the endgame ng mahahabang games,” the Green Woodpusher claimed.

(Your physical stamina as a player is really important. So, maybe next season, we’ll go jogging and do other exercises so we won’t collapse during the endgame of long games.)

Coach Susan Neri acknowledged the team’s shortcomings this season, expressing, “Of course, it’s painful. ‘Di naman talaga mawawala yung painful feeling after losing, diba.” 

(You can’t really get rid of that painful feeling after losing, right?)

Despite the results, much like Telesforo, she remains confident in the team’s capability to rebound and recover for the next season. However, for the veteran coach, although winning numerous awards and trophies is satisfying, she considers them merely as bonuses. She emphasizes that the true legacy of La Salle’s chess program lies in the family-like bond it fosters among both the players and coaches. “The program is about building a good team where everyone can depend on each other and where a family-like bond can really blossom,” said Neri.

Putting the lackluster end to the season behind them, Coach Neri, along with Telesforo and Women’s team captain Olendo, are poised and eager to come back next year and regain their place on the podium. “Next season, more or less, the other teams will field similar or even stronger lineups, but we are confident in ourselves in our ability to catch up and even surpass them with the right mindset and training,” Olendo concluded.

The UST Growling Tigers emerged as Season 86 champions of the Men’s division, exacting an impressive three-peat gold finish, while the FEU Lady Tamaraws triumphantly climbed to the top of the Women’s division podium.

Julio Amir Tampis

By Julio Amir Tampis

John Rei Salanga

By John Rei Salanga

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