The UAAP Women’s Football Tournament is deceptively competitive.
Unlike the men’s side of the competition, which has expanded to include eight teams this season, women’s football in the UAAP has had the same number of teams since becoming an official sport in 1996.
The usual suspects in this league have the following track records, counting the one year spent as a demo sport: FEU is the winningest of the teams with nine championships, followed by DLSU with eight championships, and UST with two. Historically speaking, Ateneo and UP have both shared space in the league cellar and neither team, to date, has a championship to add to its name.
Despite only boasting five teams, football on the women’s side makes it so that year to year has its fair share of close matches and very little blow outs. Expect the fierce rivalries to take over. Ateneo-DLSU match-ups are always interesting in the UAAP, and speaking from experience (and full disclosure: I used to play for UP) the “Katipunan derby” gets pretty exciting as well.
FEU and DLSU have met in the finals six times over the past 19 seasons. Except for the record number of championship titles, DLSU is the most successful women’s football program having reached the finals a record 14 times in its past 19 campaigns.
That being said, as the highest level of women’s football in the country enters its second decade of existence, it may be the year for the continental shift in the UAAP women’s football rankings.
Which team will be crowned UAAP Season 77 Champions?
Read on and see what to expect and what to look forward to in the coming months.
The Favorite – FEU
Far Eastern University has transformed itself into a football powerhouse in recent years. Last Season 76, they pretty much dominated the entire field from junior’s football to the men’s senior division. Their women’s football team are the record-holders for most tournament championships, and if you ask me, man-per-man they’ve been the most technically sound and organized team on the women’s side.
The FEU Women’s Football Team plays slick passing football and moves as a unit to score their goals. If I had a word to describe this team, it would be the word solid. Solid back four. Solid midfield. Solid strikers. On more than one occasion, I’ve seen the goalkeeper of this team look bored for the lack of action if only because her teammates do a good job of limiting the chances of their opponents.
Overall, this team has a nice balance of skill, fitness, and team chemistry. It’s something noticeable in all the FEU squads and no doubt the balance is something to be attributed to Coach Kim Chul Su- “Master Kim” to his players- and the architect of the FEU football program. But while Coach Kim retains coaching duties of the men’s team, the reins of the FEU Women’s Football Team were passed on to Coach Marnelli “Let” Dimzon a few years back.
Coach Let recently came off an International Coaching Course by the German Football Association where she was recognized as the top participant of the 3-week program. A former FEU player herself and the MVP of her team’s championship run in Season 63, this formidable woman underscores this formidable team.
This season, FEU will be without the likes of Emari Solano and last season’s MVP Mae Sullano, but returning players from last year’s squad will still make this team the one to beat.
Watch out for Ina Araneta, Sharmine Siaotong, Charmaine Fagaragan, team captain Daidai Dolino, and Season 76’s Best Striker and Best Midfielder Barbie Sobredo.
|Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws|
|Acibar, Portia Daidaluz D.||Dolino, Alesa N.|
|Amita, Analou A. *||Fagaragan, Charmaine Joy M. *|
|Amita, Jenelyn A. *||Kadil, Jean Brigette Dc.|
|Araneta, Alina Rose B.||Lecera, Roselle Marie A.|
|Banagodos, Sarah Jane M.||Pachejo, Hannah Faith R.|
|Belluga, Zhyrelle Lou A.||Ramos, Sheramae B. *|
|Chavez, Joy Roses C.||Sales, Jinky Rose J.|
|Chinedo, Quennie Faye U.||Siaotong, Sharmine B.|
|Cupal, Kimberly Eureka N.||Sobredo, Barbie Ann S.|
|Demetillo, Hannamae R.||Soriano, Javee B.|
The Wildcard – DLSU
The use of the 3-5-2 system** in football has waxed and waned in popularity, but through it all Hans Smit has still utilized the system as head coach of the DLSU Women’s Football Team.
The longest-tenured coach in the UAAP has led his team to numerous championships and finals berths, and many of his players have gone on to join and become mainstays in the Women’s National Team.
But unlike in past campaigns, however, this season Coach Hans doesn’t have the same level of talent at his disposal. National team goalkeeper Inna Palacios plays for La Salle and will undoubtedly make it difficult for other teams to score against her, but despite that fact, this team is in danger of finishing dead last for the second year in a row if some key areas aren’t addressed.
For the 3-5-2 system and specifically this DLSU team, the sweeper position has always been critical. In the past, there was Stephanie Pheasant, then Anna Frumenti, and then Miel Ampil who at one time or another protected that La Salle defensive line like their lives depended on it. To emphasize the importance of this position to the success of the squad, when Ampil graduated, striker and former Rookie of the Year Adrienne Yniguez was converted to the sweeper position. Coach Hans was willing to trade potent attack for the defensive heart of his team.
All things considered, defense will be crucial as will be the center midfields. La Salle hasn’t had the deepest bench the past two or three seasons but they’ve done reasonably well as long as they filled the sweeper position and the holding and attacking mids.
In the pre-season University Games, La Salle was outdueled by Ateneo in a best of three series. It was 4-1, 2-1, and 2-3 in favor of the white and blue. This young La Salle squad can expect more stiff competition from the different teams in the season to come.
|DLSU Lady Booters|
|Andaya, Nicole Arielle B.||Maligad, Noreen Kim A.|
|Arrieta, Alexi Nina B.||Metillo, Regine|
|Barcemo, Janna Raizel T.||Navaja, Irish O.|
|Concepcion, Thea Claire J.||Nolasco, Toni Zoemima M.|
|Diaz, Megan D.||Palacios, Inna Kristianne B.|
|Duran, Mary Cristine A.||Salen, Sophia Bethinna B.|
|Ferrer, Dea Midriel T.||Siggaoat, Paula Celesse P.|
|Guancia, Chermaine Lou D. *||Silava, Ludessa D.|
|Hain, Samantha Louise N. *||Tejada, Mariell T.|
|Hodges, Chelo Marie||Turtur, Erika Lorraine T.|
|Inquig, Kyla Jan A.|
The Toss-up – UP, Ateneo, and UST
Last season, the Ateneo Women’s Football Team came up with their best ever finish in the UAAP. They finished at 3rd place by a hairline, matching UP’s win-draw-loss record, and besting the Diliman-based team via goal difference. (One was the bitter number that denied UP a podium finish.)
This year, the two teams will be fielding a stacked line-up. Recruitment-wise, both UP and Ateneo scored a number of former national youth team players, and those players will have the advantage of playing as league veterans.
Key players in the UP squad will be defenders Molly Manalansan and Tin Mendoza, midfielders Christina Vergara, Christille Ardiente, Aira Agustin, and Kali Huff, as well as strikers and former Rookie of the Year awardees Cristina delos Reyes and Mary Rose Obra. UP Men’s and Women’s Football Team head coach Andres “Anto” Gonzalez will have his pick of players for virtually every position, including the starting goalkeeper position with seniors Jermaine Choa Peck and AJ Javier, and the younger Nicole Adlawan.
Ateneo, meanwhile, will look to players Cam Rodriguez, Mia Catedrilla, Cecil Dayrit, Aina Martin, and Leah Cruz on midfield, with towering Maan Cadayona leading the team’s defensive efforts. Ateneo coach Bob Manlulo has the added advantage of having at his disposal several of his former Miriam College High School players, many of whom he’s coached since they were in grade school. The combination of veterans with many of Coach Bob’s long-time players will play a significant role in his team’s cohesion and chemistry throughout the tournament.
As for last year’s runner-up UST, the España-based squad will be without Marice Magdolot, Christine Fuertes, and Franky Revilla, but will retain the services of last season’s Best Defender Biggie Abuan, as well as Season 73 and 76 Best Goalkeeper Rara Luna.
Coach JR Judal’s team will be a threat as they have been in the past, but more so than in recent years, UP and Ateneo will be too.
|Abraham, Alessandra Francesca S. *||Abadilla, Paulina Marie T.||Abuan, Jena Ralyn L.|
|Amoncio, Antonette A.||Adlawan , Nicole Anne Marie C.||Abuan, Jae Marie L.|
|Antonio, Noelle Yoshiko S.||Agustin, Aira Audrey Alexis G.||Aguilar, Pearl Anjanette P. *|
|Bunyi, Katherine Sofia C.||Ardiente, Christille Mae D.||Aguilar, Princess Kate P.|
|Cadayona, Marie Angelie I. *||Choa Peck, Jermaine Lois C.||Argel, Hi’maya C.|
|Caparros, Marie Rianne M.||Dagdag, Martha Ruth T.||Castroverde, Nikki A.|
|Catedrilla, Mia Angela B.||Delos Reyes, Cristina M.||Eusebio, Marielle Dominique T.|
|Cruz, Ma Leah Patricia N.||Javier, Arriane Joy E.||Agustin, Aira M.|
|Dayrit, Cecilia M D. *||Malonzo, Patricia C.||Lopez, Ivy D.|
|Jimenez, Kimberlee A.||Manalansan, Monica Louise Y.||Luna, Zipporah D. *|
|Martin, Anne Therese Marie B.||Mendoza, Claudia Marie B.||Lustan, Hazel B.|
|Montelibano, Eva Katherine A.||Mendoza, Christiana Michele B. *||Magdolot, Marie N. *|
|Naguiat, Paulina Marie L.||Navea-huff, Kali Alexandra||Mendoza, Daryl Ann M.|
|Ong, Annika Gabrielle R.||Navea-huff, Marie E.||Ramores, Sheen Nicole B.|
|Punsalan, Patricia Zita S.||Nierras, Sabrina Lauren D.||Reyes, Nicole Julliane L.|
|Rodriguez, Kathleen Camille M.||Nisce, Natalie B.||Salip Jamuh, Sharifamae H.|
|Sabio, Athina C.||Obra, Mary Rose O.||Sanchez, Rachelle Hope L.|
|Sabio, Isabella C.||Orsolino, Katherine Louise B.||Sutacio, Marielle D.|
|Sucgang, Ramona Julia D.||Perez, Blessie Bianca S.||Toledo, Cheska Jane M|
|Villaflor, Pauline Isabel Aurora Trinidad M.||Sebastian, Maxine Selina C.||–|
|–||Sta. Clara, Ma. Angeliza B.||–|
|–||Vergara, Christina Marie C.||–|
Given the stacked line-up, it may finally be the breakthrough year for the historical cellar dwellers. UP and Ateneo have the talent and the experience this year, but the key will be consistency. Who on their bad day will still manage the “ugly win”? My forecast is that FEU will secure a championship berth by the halfway mark of the 2nd round, and the other slot will be a toss-up between UP, Ateneo, and UST. La Salle, meanwhile, can still surprise as one Ateneo player noted that their rookie-laden line-up played quite aggressively in the University Games.
But a word in edgewise to all championship contenders: FEU is not unbeatable, but at the same time you have to be pretty damn good to beat them.
*For the team line-ups, freshmen are noted in italics. Players in their final year of eligibility are noted with an *.
**3-5-2 system stands for 3 defenders, 5 midfielders, and 2 strikers. The most common formation in the UAAP Women’s Football Tournament is 4-4-2.