There were a lot of games and many storylines that arose in the last couple of days in UAAP football. A total of six compelling matches took place to mark the end of the tournament’s first round. Along with the results came corresponding perspectives from players and coaches who now eagerly anticipate the second half, with each of them hoping to do better in the latter stage of the season.
In the first of a special two-part edition of FULL TIME, here are the takes of the protagonists on what transpired Wednesday afternoon in women’s football.
UP’s first loss opens room for adjustments
The dream start for UP came to an end in the last game of the first round when they were beaten 2-0 by La Salle. The Lady Maroons gave away their first two goals this season and failed to find the back of the net for the first time in four games.
“We didn’t want it enough,” UP winger Kali Navea-Huff suggested. Still, she furthered by saying that the team had a poor game, especially in connecting passes in dangerous spaces. “It’s something that we can fix and something we’re already working towards.” Gracious in defeat, the sophomore also praised DLSU’s preparedness in facing them.
Likewise, UP mentor Anto Gonzales credited La Salle in properly executing on both ends that made his team appear to play flat. “I thought the girls were tired. I don’t know if they did not do their part or nasobrahan kami sa training, which we have to assess.”
Thankfully for UP, they are on bye at the start of the second round meaning they will not play until next weekend. The advantage of finishing on top just gives them enough time to regroup and recuperate before resuming their quest of making the finals.
Guancia steps out of comfort zone to help DLSU win
Aside from the well-executed counterattacking plays that led them to score goals, the DLSU Lady Booters also employed radical adjustments ahead of their match against UP. One notable part of the plan was putting the experienced players in the back line to mute the Lady Maroons’ offense. The UP offensive specialists were able to take a few shots on goal but none had the right combination of power and accuracy to challenge DLSU goalkeeper Inna Palacios.
One odd decision was to move striker Cha Guancia further behind to a left fullback role. A loss would have been detrimental not only to La Salle’s season but it may have also undermined Smit’s decision-making. As big of a risk as it was, it brought huge rewards when the move effectively prevented UP from playing a free-flowing game on offense.
“I was excited and nervous at the same time, but I was confident with our defense,” shared Guancia who is in her last year in the league. If some people from the stands had just seen her play for the first time, they may have mistaken her for an actual fullback with the way she shut down UP’s offense. In support, Lady Maroon Kali Navea-Huff took note of Guancia after the game. “They marked us pretty well. Cha, especially, was so fast. She was good in blocking. We didn’t get many opportunities,” she stated.
For many years, the Negrense striker contributed by putting the ball into the back of the net. In her last game, however, she did it the other way around as her efforts were meant to derail UP’s explosive attack. But even if it worked against UP, it remains to be seen where Guancia will be stationed in Sunday’s clash against Ateneo.
Lady Tamaraws far from desired championship form
The FEU Lady Tamaraws may be in second place after winning three straight games with only goal difference keeping UP ahead of them, but the green-and-gold camp thinks that they could do way better than what they have achieved in the first round. All of their games ended in one-goal results, including the loss to UP.
FEU coach Let Dimzon thinks her team needs to work on improving on-field communication between players and the ability to keep possession in the attacking third. They usually dominate possession, but according to Dimzon the team tends to waste the advantage. “May times na may movements sa side pero wala nang naiiwan sa harapan,” she lamented.
The sentiment of Dimzon was echoed by the team’s leading goalscorer Ina Araneta. “Kulang pa ‘yung binibigay namin.” She admits that sometimes they feel nervous in facing defenses, leading to squandered opportunities to score. She and her teammates will be tested when they go up against UST tomorrow.
Not yet too late for hopeful Ateneo
The Ateneo Women’s Football Team are in fourth place with only three of the possible 12 points in their pockets. Despite this, Ateneo coach Bob Manlulo remains confident about his team’s chances of making the finals this season. However, for them to make a late charge this season, his players need to ease the pressure by playing the game their way. “Go back to the game, enjoy it. That love, it can bring the success,” the Ateneo mentor said.
Looking forward, he expressed sheer optimism about the possibility of reaching the finals after failing narrowly the previous two seasons. His captain Cecil Dayrit agreed with him. “Everybody has skills, knows what to do and where to go. It’s just that we need to put or it into our minds,” she said. She also pointed out the close games in which they all lost and sees their luck to even out by the end of the first round.
Each result now is important for Ateneo. Failure to win one of the next two games could spell another early vacation this time around. The only team they have defeated, La Salle, will be their first opponents in the second round. Their game kicks off on Sunday, 1PM, at the FEU-Diliman Football Field.
Thomasians come into second round fresh after a long break
For the UST Golden Tigresses, Season 77 has been quite harsh. They only picked up a win in four games and only scored twice so far this season.
Their opening game ended in heartbreaking fashion as they dropped a point following La Salle’s late winning goal. Although Lady Luck was on their side in the succeeding game as they won 1-0 against Ateneo courtesy of Kimberlee Jimenez’s own goal, the next two games saw the UST XI struggle against opponents. They almost had a chance to share points with last year’s champions but conceded a second that derailed their momentum. A heavier defeat came in their first match of 2015. Lapses on defense were costly as the UP Lady Maroons scored four inside the first half to earn what looked like the easiest win of the season so far.
In spite of the setbacks, UST coach Judal Sorito and his players welcome the second round with open arms as it gives them a chance to revitalize their finals bid. After the loss against UP, he said, “Gagamitin namin ‘yung break. We’ll go back to the drawing board and find a way to play better from defense to offense.”
They open the second round with a duel with the rampaging FEU Lady Tamaraws tomorrow afternoon.