In a dramatic twist, defending champions De La Salle University Lady Archers have snatched the top spot from the University of Santo Tomas Lady Booters, at the tail end of a tournament where the winner gets decided on total points gained from matches.
Both teams have been neck-and-neck all season long, with DLSU initially slipping after incurring an early draw until UST were undone by a loss two weeks ago. But it’s not over yet, as the title will eventually be decided when the two teams meet in the final match of the season.
Ateneo and Far Eastern University were also productive over the weekend, while Tuloy FC won their fifth match by virtue of Green Archers United FC’s no-show.
La Salle overcomes UP challenge
Still hobbled by the loss of key players who are either in Tajikistan for the Olympic qualifiers, on vacation, or on suspension, the De La Salle University still found a way around the University of the Philippines, 3-1.
After playing their last few matches using their reserves, the first team of UP were finally on hand to take on a familiar foe they last defeated in Season 78 to become champions. But it was DLSU who were on the board first after a foul led to a penalty goal by Rocelle Mendaño in the 17th minute.
The Lady Maroons then remained undaunted, went to work, and put a recent training camp’s efforts to good use. They were rewarded with an equalizer by way of rookie Andrea Montilla in the 38th minute.
With UP aware that their offense was clicking again, the pressure was on DLSU. A keeper error luckily gave the advantage back to the Lady Archers when Mendaño’s free kick in the 67th minute looked like it was about to be intercepted by Vanessa Estrada, until she slipped at the last second.
Carmen Castellano’s shot at close range with five minutes to go nailed the coffin on UP’s resistance, and the victory gave La Salle the push they needed to overtake University of Santo Tomas and be the league’s new leaders.
“We managed to win with only fifteen strong and the fact that we lost key players for the game,” said Alvin Ocampo. “I was happy that Maye Mendaño stepped up for us in this game, she played what we expected of her,” the La Salle coach added.
With the end in sight, and a title that could be defended, the focus has shifted to the next game against the only other contender.
“Right now the team is experiencing a kind of progression. We just have to find our individual forms so we can build up to the best form that we can be. Now that it’s the last game, it serves as the ‘final exam’ and we’ll see if we’ve grown well,” shared team captain Kyra Dimaandal.
La Salle and UST have been pitted against each other often lately, appearing in the last few major finals. Separated by only a mere point in the league’s standings, their next fixture against each other – which also happens to be last league match of the season – can be treated like another final that will be built into their growing rivalry.
“UST is there to challenge us and this will help the team reach their highest potential,” noted Ocampo.
Naguiat strike allows Ateneo to squeak past Hiraya FC
It’s been a rocky season for the Ateneo de Manila University; they have been stuck in the bottom half of the table all season, but beating Hiraya FC 2-1 may have given them a positive turn.
It was actually Hiraya who drew blood first after Natasha Alquiros’ vintage strike from distance in the 14th minute put the club ahead of its collegiate counterparts. But the lead did not last very long, as Hiraya gave up a penalty two minutes later which Cathy Cabrera duly converted.
The Lady Eagles continued to struggle with their play, as Hiraya continued to harass them in midfield. In the 66th minute, the ladies in black and blue found the break they needed when Paulina Naguiat finished off Pam Diaz’s pass inside the box.
The win puts Ateneo in seventh place behind clubs Hiraya and OutKast FC. The best finish they can hope for is a top-half finish should the club teams draw each other in their final fixture and if they themselves win their last game.
“Since wala na rin kaming chance to go up sa top teams, ang habol nalang namin is exposure ng mga bata na makalaro silang lahat and kahit papano yung gameplan namin ma-execute nila sa loob,” admitted Marigen Ariel.
Ateneo’s assistant coach hopes the team can keep their momentum so they can finish strong.
“Kahit sabihin mong wala nang chance to move in dun sa top, kailangan pa rin namin manalo para makita namin kung are we improving dun sa mga previous game namin. Kung may adjustment, yung mga adjustment ba is it effective ba, mga ganun,” Ariel added.
FEU crushes Zobel in 10-goal romp to stay in third
The Far Eastern University look determined to finish their preseason on a high after dismantling De La Salle Zobel, 10-0.
A quick goal in the 3rd minute by Roselle Lecera spelled doom for the high school squad and after scoring again two minutes later, the intentions of Glaiza Artus’ side seemed clear: inflating their goal difference to stay ahead of nearest rivals Tuloy FC, with whom they are tied in points.
“Kailangan pa rin namin mag-habol ng goal difference kahit papano kasi we’re aiming to finish third, kaya more score pa rin,” remarked FEU’s assistant coach.
Five Lady Tamaraws scored in the contest. Joining Lecera on the scoresheet was Jovelle Sudaria, who broke out of a scoring slump by netting four (22nd, 43rd, 55th and 60th minutes).
FEU’s top ace Joyce Onrubia chipped in an injury time goal, while Lecera completed her hat-trick in the 66th minute.
Suettie Simoy converted a penalty goal in the 86th minute, while Carmela Altiche managed a breakaway goal in the 89th minute after brushing off a handful of offside calls.
Even with an edge on goal difference, finishing in the top three will still come down to the teams of Morayta and Alabang facing each other off in their final fixture.
Artus hopes that playing and winning against the highschoolers of Zobel will prepare them for the tricky challenge presented by Tuloy, whose players are just as young.
“Sabi ko sa kanila na hindi porke’t na bata magre-relax, sasabayan ng pace ng play. Kailangan nilang malaro ang laro namin, yung hindi sasabay sa kalaban. So kailangan nilang maging mas aggressive. Hundred percent pa rin dapat ibibigay,” she said.
DLSU – 22 pts (+31 GD)
UST – 21 pts (+38 GD)
FEU – 16 pts (+21 GD)
Tuloy FC – 16 pts (+13 GD)
Hiraya FC – 11 pts (+5 GD)
OutKast FC – 10 pts (+6 GD)
ADMU – 10 pts (-5 GD)
GAU FC – 4 pts (-20 GD)
DLSZ – 3 pts (-56 GD)
UP – 2 pts (-33 GD)
The PFF Women’s League will have its final two matchdays next weekend with all teams playing at the PFF National Training Centre in Carmona, Cavite.
On Saturday, November 10, the University of the Philippines will battle it out with De La Salle Zobel to avoid last place at 8:00 A.M. Ateneo de Manila University will then look to finish strong against Green Archers United FC at 10:30 A.M.
On Sunday, November 11, third place will be up for grabs between Tuloy FC and Far Eastern University at 8:00 A.M. OutKast FC and Hiraya FC will next fight for the top half at 10:30 A.M. Finally, De La Salle University and the University of Sto. Tomas will face off at 2:45 P.M. with the league title on the line.
The games will be available on livestream at http://pff.org.ph/pff-tv.