Two years ago, the DLSU Women’s Football Team ended a seven-year UAAP Women’s Football Tournament title drought by recording a perfect season. Coach Hans Smit’s team did it in spectacular fashion, winning all of their nine games to secure the championship.
Since then, the girls have never looked back and are in no mood to cut their reign short. In Season 81, they find themselves in a good position once more as they enter their fourth consecutive final.
Unlike the two previous seasons, the Lasallians have a different opponent in the big dance. In Seasons 79 and 80, the Archers had memorable duels against the Tigers of UST. In both occasions, the match went down the wire with La Salle emerging winners via decisive strikes inside the last 15 minutes.
This time around, it is FEU’s turn to stop La Salle from achieving a three-peat. A key to the return of Coach Let Dimzon’s squad to the final is their dominance of back-to-back runner-up UST. The Gold-and-Green have beaten their España-based counterparts twice to get here.
Throughout history, DLSU’s battles with the Tamaraws have never been easy and their next meeting promises to be anything but a walk in the park.
Approaching the final, La Salle holds an advantage over their opponents. DLSU has already beaten FEU once this season and is eyeing to do it once more to achieve success. Apart from their Season 81 head-to-head record, there are three main factors where La Salle stands out.
No team has yet to beat DLSU in Season 81 Women’s Football but it does not mean that the ladies from Taft had a smooth ride to the final. In two out of the eight matches, La Salle faced adversity when they went behind in matches.
It’s never a good thing to trail in a game but the beauty in it is seeing the team’s response in such situations. In both tests against UST in the first round and UP in the second round, DLSU worked hard to make sure they won’t come home empty handed. They earned draws from both matches, claiming two vital points from losing positions.
More than staying unbeaten ahead of the finals, the record proves that it would take a colossal effort to bring La Salle down. If anything, it shows that there is no quit in the team, signifying the character of champions that they are.
Defence wins championships is an old sports saying many tend to believe in. The ladies in Green-and-White could simply go with that as they have the finest defensive record in the division. However, the team is not just powerful defensively as they have demonstrated their attacking force as well.
Having scored in seven out of eight Season 81 games, La Salle has racked up a total of 19 goals which amounts to 2.38 goals per match. Compared to last season, the team has already converted more than twice they did when they only found the back of the net 9 times in their first 8 matches of Season 80.
Their average in the previous three finals they played in is also healthy at 2 goals per match, which says a lot about the ability of the girls to find the back of the net. Even in the tensest of battles, there seems to be a guarantee that DLSU would score – and not just once.
The catalyst for La Salle’s scoring spree is Shai del Campo. The rookie out of De La Salle Zobel has nine goals to her name already. To put things in perspective, she has outscored every other team in Season 81 just by herself. As if that’s already a handful, del Campo is not the sole threat in the Archers’ camp as five other teammates of hers also got themselves in the scoresheet. Among those five, three players have scored more than one.
Overall, this only strengthens the point that DLSU has goals in them. Del Campo getting on the end of things most of the time may be due to her advanced position but the involvement of other players means that scoring goals has been a collective effort and that whoever finishes the job becomes secondary. The most important thing, it seems, is that there is no scarcity of chances to score enough goals to win games.
Rich in experience
DLSU has been through a lot in the past four years. In Season 78, a spectacular campaign ended on a sour note as UP denied them a first title since Season 72. For a lot of reasons, it was a bitter pill to swallow. Yet instead of letting the setback hold them back, it has allowed them to be stronger than ever.
By looking back on their shortcomings, La Salle became a formidable team that they are now. Champions in the next two seasons, the Archers are in the hunt for their third straight. The right mix of highs and lows and their constant presence in game number nine in the past three years suggest that today’s veterans developed nicely in a competitive environment.
At the same time, the rookies at the time were already thrust into high stakes football in their first season. Consequently, the team members have grown together stronger, wiser, and better as each year went by.
In contrast, FEU has last been to the final in 2015. Most, if not all, of their players now have not yet been to the final. They may have shown glimpses of brilliance in Season 81 but if they would not be careful, they might get fazed by the occasion. While that remains to be seen, what is sure is that DLSU has plenty of experience to guide them in the final.
For the DLSU Women’s Football Team, the Season 81 Final is going to be symbolic. They are on the brink of achieving legendary status by becoming just the second UAAP three-peat winners in the school’s history. To do so, they simply need to keep doing what they have been doing for most the recent seasons – win another football game.