After the final whistle sounded in their opening match, Martie Bautista finished her first outing with the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles. It was a nail-biting affair that ended in defeat for the Ateneans. Nevertheless, Bautista walked out of the McKinley Hill Stadium optimistic about the upcoming battles this season.
Relishing the UAAP experience
“It was so exciting,” Bautista exclaimed. The rookie has been with Ateneo for 10 months now, but the game against De La Salle University marked the beginning of her UAAP career. Amidst the excitement, she had helplessly felt nervous during the intense encounter and it took an unfortunate moment for her to adapt to the frantic atmosphere. “I never felt so nervous in my life. After cramping up, I just realized ‘you’re here now,’” the rookie said.
Throughout the game, Bautista showcased her skills. She made a brilliant move down the left wing to set up teammate Bea Velasco, allowing Ateneo to seize the lead at 2-1. Unfortunately, it was the last time the Lady Eagles led as they fell to a second half surge of their Lasallian foes. Despite having lost the game, the rookie believes a stinging loss early in the season could help their long-term cause. “Sometimes you learn from these things. It’s not going to bring us down and hold us back. All the more, it’s going to push us forward,” she stated.
The loss seems to be the only negative in what had been a vibrant Ateneo performance on opening day. The Lady Eagles were able to threaten the La Salle goal as much as their opponents did theirs, making a draw perhaps the fair result. Down by a goal early in the match, Ateneo gradually found ways to get themselves back on track. Getting on the scoresheet as soon as possible courtesy of a penalty gave Ateneo the confidence to move on the pitch. Even leading in the roller-coaster kind of a match, they stayed in it until the final whistle. For Bautista, that says a lot about her team. “I like the way we just kept pushing ourselves. I like people who don’t give up easily and just keep pushing forward,” Bautista elaborated.
Reflecting on the match, the rookie sees room for improvement in herself and the team. Personally, Bautista hopes to play more confidently now that she has survived her first match. Determined to give her all for Ateneo, she added, “I’m a rookie and there’s a lot of pressure. I hope I don’t fail my team.”
Speaking about the team, she thinks adjusting better to opponents’ game plans will be vital as they go along. “I’d like us to improve on learning to adapt. La Salle shocked us. We expected their play to come from the wingers, but in this game they were coming from the middle,” Bautista shared.
Playing alongside an idol
As she grasps a lot of things in her first year in the UAAP, Bautista is glad to spend it together with a person she has looked up to since high school, Ateneo captain Camille Rodriguez. “I look up to her. Coming to Ateneo, I was so pumped being able to play with her,” she shared. Teammates once in their Miriam days, they are reunited in the other side of the Katipunan fence.
An influential figure in her development as a college player, Rodriguez is also a role model for Bautista ever since high school. They play similarly as ball-distributing midfielders who have decent amount of pace to dismantle defenses. So, getting a chance to be in the same team as her means a lot for the budding first year talent. “I learned a lot from my captain. She also gives me the confidence. She would whisper in my ear saying I can do it,” shared the inspired rookie.
After a bye last weekend, Bautista and the Lady Eagles had plenty of time to prepare as they hunt for their first win of the season. The next opportunity will come against the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigresses in a match that will take place at the McKinley Hill Stadium on Saturday, March 20, at 4pm.