In the last weekend of the ground-breaking 2016 PFF Women’s League for 2016, the present and future of Philippine football made sure to put on a show.
But it the league-leading De La Salle University Lady Archers who stole the weekend with a scintillating come-from-behind win against the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws. Not far behind is the Cinderella team of the league OutKast FC as they continue to turn non-believers into believers.
Clemente, TYFA FC pummel Hiraya FC in goal fest
The Younghusband Football Academy FC and Hiraya FC opened the weekend action with a classic goal fest. At the end of 90 minutes, however, TYFA FC took full points, with seasoned forward Joma Clemente doing the damage late on to close the match at 4-2.
The blue shirts took the lead just seven minutes into the match, with Reyes scoring. The lead, however, did not last long, as Aiza Mondero equalized for Hiraya FC in the 13th minute.
It was a tussle after that as both teams searched for an opening in the opposing defense. TYFA then retook the advantage when Karen Ladero shot past Hiraya’s guard in the 37th minute.
But the blue shirts’ mentor Roberto Cabural studied the match well and then made some adjustments to seal the win.
“So nung first half … my team kasi same na nagkita-kita again eh. So nag-adjust pa ko nung first half. So, nung naka-ahead kami ng one point, so sabi ko lang, sustain. Nung second half, nag-adjust ako, because my players walang conditioning, walang training, so sabi ko adjust tayo [sa] ball possession. So, nakuha naman,” he shared.
Aside from controlling possession, he also put in three new players to start the second period, and among those fresh legs was Clemente.
Cabural shared, “Very important sila Joma nung second half kasi sila yung naka-adjust agad sa field kasi bago pa sila mag-in sa second half. Pinagwatch ko sila kung paano sila maga-adjust sa loob. Not yung may magsabi sa kanila, but yung sila, they have to read the play of the opponent.”
As a result, the forward added some firepower into TYFA’s offense. Clemente’s first goal and her team’s third was a case of being at the right place at the right time. In the 52nd minute, the striker took advantage of the defensive scuffle and sent the ball into the back of the net.
“First po, yung finishing. Kasi po nung firsf half, lagi yung gusto parang idadakdak yung bola sa goal. So, walang naglolong shot. So yun yung adjustment, dapat may naglolong shot. Bago magreceive alamin kung saan pupunta yung bola. More on timing po. Timing lang sa dalawang strikers kung anong gagawin. Nagkataon lang din na nakatayo ako sa gitna, kaya maganda yung finishing,” she shared of the first goal of her brace.
Clemente then doubled her output with another quality strike nine minutes after. The TYFA Booters played more fluidly as the match progressed, but Hiraya’s desperate defending worked.
The striker believes that her team need to learn a thing or two in order to become more competitive moving forward. She said, “Yung composure po kung nasaan yung bola. And then, body shape. Importante po yun eh. So before you receive the ball, kapag sumipa ka, malakas man o mahina, kapag yung body mo is in good position, madaling makaka-score.”
The orange-shirts got some lease for life with the insertion of veteran Natasha Alquiros. The veteran midfielder displayed composure on the attack as Hiraya FC became more dangerous.
Substitute field player Vanessa Anne Fabon used this momentum to break Hiraya’s scoring drought in the 80th minute.
However, it was a little late, as Clemente and the rest of TYFA FC wrapped up the win and the three points to end the year.
De Los Reyes’ late goal sends Lady Maroons to second straight win
In Saturday’s main offering, national team standout and team captain Cristina De Los Reyes scored late to give the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons their second straight and third overall victory.
The UP skipper took advantage of an opportunity on the counter attack and blasted the ball into the Ateneo net in the 82nd minute for the game’s only goal.
Coach Anto Gonzales was pleased with how his wards had started the game, as the Lady Maroons showed good offensive setups. He said, “I thought they started very well. First 15 minutes of the match, very patient build up, not losing a lot of balls. And then when we started making mistakes, we got lazy getting to good positions. Dun nawala yung fluidity ng possession.”
With top scorer Mary Rose Obra not starting due to an upset stomach, the Maroons got the initiative in the match from attacking midfielder Yanzie Yalong, whose ball distribution was excellent.
“Our coach told us to make the most out of it and everyone has to step up, ’cause Mary Rose is a very good key player in the game,” De Los Reyes shared.
“What we focused on instead was, since we lack her speed, we focused on connections and moving around, and building up from there. That’s what we planned to do.”
However, Ateneo’s discipline on defense made it hard for UP to score a goal. In most cases, the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Blue Eagles got their chances on the counter attack, with team captain Camille Rodriguez at the helm. But Rodriguez and the rest of the Loyola-based squad could not break the Maroons’ defense.
Coach Gonzales had seen enough and sent Obra onto the field. This helped the Maroons run their offense better and it led to De Los Reyes’ winner.
The goal scorer believes that this altered the complexion of the game. “Any person coming late into the game helps, because she’s ‘fresh legs.’ In terms of Mary Rose, she’s a veteran key player, and when she steps on the field, she changed the game entirely and we became more motivated to actually score, because she is one of the people who is actually really hungry for goals.”
With the win, UP move closer to league leaders De La Salle University.
Lady Archers overcome 2-1 deficit to steal maximum points and remain undefeated
The last time De La Salle University and Far Eastern University met in a PFF tournament, it was the final of the PFF Women’s Cup last year. The squad from Morayta won that time, and it almost ended up the same way in this league game until the ladies of Taft decided to even up the head-to-head.
FEU stormed in front when captain Jovelle Sudaria outran La Salle’s backline to drill a shot past goalkeeper Erika Turtur just 12 minutes in. Curiously, the weather played a part in the game, just as it had in their previous meeting in the title match.
The rain didn’t last all game long, but it led to sluggish passes and whistles being blown on numerous fouls, disrupting play and frustrating both sides. Tempers ran so high that DLSU coach Hans-Peter Smit was thrown out by the referee after repeated complaints.
Close to halftime, in the 43rd minute, FEU conceded an own goal after a pass that Claire Concepcion had collected bounced off FEU defender Suet Simoy before going into the net.
The Lady Tamaraws were undeterred by the errorm however, and took back the lead after Mary Harriette Lam notched FEU’s second in the next minute.
In the next half, La Salle struggled to fight back, prompting Smit to shout instructions from the bleachers. Somehow the message got through and the Taft girls slowly gathered momentum.
With four minutes left in the game, Kyra Dimaandal pounced on a loose ball in the box, to which FEU’s defense were slow to react, levelling the game once more.
Drama unfolded late in the game as FEU became restless, desperately trying to defend a draw, resulting in Hanna Pachejo being called for a handball in the penalty area. Since she had also been carded earlier in the game, this meant an ejection for Pachejo, who ran off the field visibly upset.
Her teammates tried to contest the referee’s decision, but Brigette Kadil and Zhyrelle Belluga got yellow cards instead.
Sara Castañeda duly converted the spot kick in injury time, sealing the win for La Salle, who are now four-for-four in the league and on top with 12 points.
Castañeda revealed later that she hadn’t felt pressure when scoring the game-winner.
“I practice with penalties all the time so normally Coach Hans would ask me to kick it because I’m more comfortable in kicking it. No pressure, not really, just–I have to shoot,” the DLSU taliswoman shared.
Castañeda also made sure to point out that even with all their success so far, La Salle must remain grounded and focused.
“Like last year for UAAP we were also top throughout the whole league and then at the end we lost, so now it’s like we can’t just let it go. We’ll have to keep working hard every game,” she added.
After the game, Smit explained he wasn’t bothered at all by the ejection and that he had actually done it on purpose.
“In the first half, they didn’t have the intensity [because] they just finished their finals. The intensity was gone. It’s dead, a lull in the game. That’s why I just sacrificed myself. I really wanted to get kicked out. You see, after the referee warned me, I just kept on. So the players know that I got kicked out,” he said, hinting that it was in fact a tactical move to fire up his players.
Smit also sounded pleased that his team delivered a win despite being down two goals. “This is the only game that they had a situation like this. Na down by two. I don’t remember […] the last time we were down by two and we still won the game. This shows you the true character of the team. They’re all young. They still have a way to go. But, number one is attitude. And they showed it today.”
La Salle may not have lost a game to date. but Smit acknowledged the danger of being always successful and promises to keep an eye out for complacency.
“You need to always put your A-game forward. It’s not always physical or tactical. What I have to take care of is the attitude. That’s the hardest thing you can ever do. The team if you have a good team, they become complacent. That’s why I keep on saying, ‘The only team that can beat you is you, yourselves. If you don’t play the way you’re supposed to play, then you will definitely lose because of your attitude or style. So, you need to give them a little bit maturity.”
Cabalan and Sobredo tally braces for emphatic OutKast win
OutKast FC continue their Cinderella run, posting their third league win and positioning themselves in second place overall with 10 points after roting Fuego Espana, 6-0.
Mara Sabanal set off the offensive spree blasting a shot inside 13 minutes.
Jennizel Cabalan joined her on the scoreboard using clever skill to beat both defender and keeper in the 23rd minute. Six minutes later, a defensive error gifted her a brace. Then Barbie Sobredo added in OutKast’s fourth goal at the stroke of halftime.
In the second half, OutKast continued to dominate possession, with their goalie barely getting any touches on the ball thanks to captain Analou Amita’s dogged defense. Sobredo later nabbed her second goal of the game with ten minutes left on the clock.
Six minutes later, OutKast scored their last goal for the day when Jayneth Mercado lobbed a shot that looked like it was going out but dipped in at the last second.
The win not only means that OutKast are unbeaten after four games, like La Salle – they are only two points behind the leaders after a draw in their opener – but also that they have collected four straight shutouts, having not conceded a single goal.
OutKast coach Rhea Penales reflected on her team’s unlikely success. “I’m happy with the results of our games so far. Kahit club team kami, 90% of our players are [graduates] from UAAP teams din […] so more experienced in terms of games and exposure. Nadadaan sa ‘veteran moves’, ika nga. Also matured na ‘tong team sa mga tournaments, [kasi] most of our players have trained in junior and senior RP teams,” she said.
After recording her most goals in the league yet, striker Cabalan shared that there is a great mood within the team.
“Masarap kasi kahit wala kaming training, [yung] communication nandun talaga. Yung unity namin as a team, kahit hindi kami masyado nagba-bonding kaya masaya. I mean, hindi kami every day [nagsasama] o nagba-bonding like nagte-training. Kaya pagpasok sa field, tapos nakaka-goal agad kami masarap [siya],” she expounded, hinting at how it felt good that the team was clicking even with still little training.
“Puso lang, or siguro yung friendship namin kasi magkakakilala kami lahat. Parang ganun [good vibes lahat]. Walang pressure, ganun. Lahat nage-enjoy, kaya siguro ganun,” Cabalan added.
Training is limited at the moment for OutKast, but Cabalan said they will need to pick it up in preparation for the harder teams.
“Siguro kailangan talaga kasi yung mga nakalaban palang namin mga club teams, so kailangan namin mag-training para sa mga UAAP teams. Kasi sila nagte-training sila, kami wala kaming training. So, baka madali kami sa takbuhan, sa endurance.”
Del Campo scores double as GAU hammer Kaya FC
The last game of the year saw a rivalry not just between two teams that also feature in the country’s well-known UFL circuit, but also between players.
The high school members of Green Archers United FC and Kaya FC are very familiar with each other, having played against one another in the UFL youth league and in high school tournaments.
For this game though, the balance of youth and experience gave GAU the edge.
Carmela Bautista opened the scoring for GAU, finishing an attack two minutes in and matching the league’s fastest goal scored by Obra last December 10.
Annalie Martinez later struck in the 16th minute after powering the ball to the top of the net and out of the Kaya goalie’s reach.
Alisha Del Campo, who already has a hat-trick to her name, padded the score in the 34th minute.
After halftime, GAU kept the pressure up, leading to a Julia Panganiban goal just two minutes after restart.
One of the game’s highlights featured Anicka Castañeda’s effort from the corner in the 61st minute, when the ball curled right into the net for GAU’s fifth goal.
Mary Jane Penol pulled a goal back for Kaya in the 68th minute, but Del Campo answered back ten minutes later for GAU’s sixth.
Kaya FC actually had another chance to score when a penalty was awarded to them late in the game. However, GAU goalie Natasha Lacson denied Glynnes Dela Cruz’ attempt from the spot.
Elvin Marcellana of GAU was quick to credit his team’s success to training that is slowly becoming regular.
“Yung organization namin, yung pinag-solid namin kanina. Tapos yung attack namin, so pati yung finishing namin, yun yung dini-develop namin so, yun yung mga combination namin. So, happy lang ako na lumalabas yung combination, yung one-two din, mga cutback pa,” he said.
Castañeda, who has been performing well like her sister Sara of DLSU, attributed their success to practice.
“I don’t know, it’s just you know, like practice and hard work. Yeah, we’ve been playing for a pretty long time [together] also. So, yeah,” she commented, eager to play against her sister soon.
“It’s pretty intense, like compared to the high school level. Like we have to work a lot harder and stuff,” Castañeda also added, referring to the league.
Her teammate both in GAU and in high school, Del Campo, agreed with the sentiment. “So far, like, it’s hard to compete, to go and to play with the big [older] ones because [we’re] still young, but every game naman I try to step up with the games against all of [these] players. Besides the gap between the others and between, it’s pretty big,” she said.
When asked about this relationship with her older teammates, Del Campo added, “It’s okay. Respect, respect. During the game, kailangan mawala talaga yung hiya pero yun lang, laro lang. Patas lang. Laban kung laban.”
Del Campo also said she enjoyed playing against teammates she was familiar with. “No pressure, naman. Kasi, parang, before I get to play with them as in against and with–so yun nga, parang madali. Madali na hindi kasi I know their plays, some of their plays. Some kasi hindi [na] familiar so mahirap, so, kinapa ko muna nung una. Good game, na rin. It was a fun game,” she shared.
The win makes GAU the only club team other than OutKast FC to be at the top half of the league with 6 points and two wins under their belt.
The PFF Women’s League goes on a holiday break and will be back on the second week of January.
On January 14, Green Archers United FC are first up against FEU at 2:00 P.M. followed by Kaya FC and UP at 4:30 P.M.
On January 15, La Salle face UST at 2:00 P.M. with Ateneo versus TYFA next at 4:30 P.M. Fuego Espanya and Hiraya FC close the day with an evening match at 7:00 P.M.