Published on February 4th, 2017 | by Louie Fernando0
UAAP 79 Team Preview: DLSU Booters
The De La Salle University’s Men’s and Women’s Football team have seen their most successful stretch since UAAP Season 75. Either of the two teams has had winning seasons going back to that year. Last season saw both teams reaching the playoffs, finishing second and first in the standings respectively. With Season 78 marking the zenith of this stretch, can the DLSU Green and Lady Booters build up from this momentum and finally recapture the elusive crown?
One Goal Away
The expectations were high for the men’s football team coming into the Final Four. Behind only football powerhouse University of the Philippines, their title bids were abruptly shut off by rival Ateneo de Manila University.
Green Booters centre-back and co-captain Noel Brago looked back on the upset, “Last year’s semi finals defeat against our rival school was very difficult to accept . . . [We] had the chance to win the game. We dominated the game but couldnt convert our chances into goals”.
Likewise, Rookie of the Year Jed Diamante and now the leading midfielder lamented the loss. But is eager to show that this loss will only intensify the team’s fire. “Although the loss was painful, it is a reminder for us that we have to come in hungrier this UAAP 79. This year, we have more talent in our arsenal. We’re all just excited to play for the school and the people who support the DLSU Football Team”.
Minor Setback, Major Comeback
It seems the squad is not discouraged and have reloaded their guns. Stud forward Gelo Diamante, who scored the pivotal game-tying goal in regular time against Ateneo in the semi-finals, was initially planning to further his academics but is now returning for another run at the chip. Him and the other veterans will steady the ship as the rookies are slowly infused in the system.
Also, chemistry, talent, and experience seemed to have improved. “What separates the team from this year and from last year is that we’re more bonded”, Brago added. This year’s batch of rookies, namely Paeng Siggaoat, Chris Lawless, and Matt Custodio are expected to make an impact and deepen the squad. Meanwhile, the seniors’ national level experience will surely come in handy during crunch time play.
In the end, last season’s heartbreak is in the rear view mirror. Now, solid team play and the right mindset will be their fuel going forward. Jed emphasizes this, “We all just have to continue playing for each other and to continue supporting each other no matter what. After all, winning as a team is more fulfilling”.
A mere penalty goal away from the finals, the Green Booters are hungry and are vouching for greatness, “My team promises to bounce back and remain positive all throughout [the season] because every great team suffers those kinds of setbacks”, vows the co-captain.
One Step Away
The Lady Booters were in the championship stage facing the powerhouse club in UP, a step away from grabbing the trophy. However, like the Green Booters, it was not their time to claim the hardware.
Losing at the hands of a great football club is no shame, however the team has always deflected this as an excuse. Over and over the team has reiterated that the loss is nothing more than its own lapses and that every opponent poses their own unique challenge.
Last season’s Rookie of the Year and Best Midfielder awardee Sara Castañeda assured that last season’s defeat will not affect their play, “For now, our team is improving by working hard every training, having the right mindset and giving it our all”.
Same Cast, Better Chemistry
This season’s Lady Boosters will feature the same roll of players on the field. Although the club has shown that it has added a beat to their steps, as they are currently steamrolling through the PFF Women’s League boasting an unblemished record.
Now having the same squad for a long time with more experience, this former young team will now show improved maturity which should result to better executions on the field. This will be an advantage for the talent-laden club this Season 79.
Notably, Season 78 Best Goalkeeper Inna Palacios and other players are coming back from an injury. Also, Kyrhen Dimaandal, Erika Turtur, Nicole Andaya, Regine Metillo, and other mainstay Lady Booters are expected to flaunt their improved skills that can only be better under veteran football coach Hans Smit. On the down side, key player Shannon Artur is sidelined with an ACL injury.
Now more than ever, because of last season’s heartbreaks both DLSU’s football clubs have laser-focus on the prize. As Castañeda said, “I guess now after experiencing what happened last season we are even hungrier to win the title”. With chips on their shoulders, both teams are aiming their arrows firmly on that championship.
The Green Booters will open up the new season against UP in Rizal Memorial Stadium, February 4, 2017, 4 p.m.