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Nine for IX: La Salle sweeps women's football tournament, downs UST in the final

BACK ON TOP. La Salle's women's football swept their season and won the title undefeated.
By Kevin Estrada

MANILA -- How SWEEP it is.

After seven agonizing years, De La Salle reclaimed the UAAP Women's football title, sinking a game UST side in a thrilling final, 3-1, at the Rizal Memorial las Sunday evening.

After painfully losing the crown to UP last year, the Lady Archers of Hans-Peter Smit were clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the league, with the win in the final was their ninth straight that completed the golden sweep by not dropping any points and nabbed title number nine to give co-skippers Inna Palacios and Meryll Ledesma a fitting farewell to their college careers.

However, Aging Rubio's Tigresses will not go down to be a bridesmaid without a fight, as they take on the league leaders head-on from the opening whistle, matching their intensity and speed that brought more than a thousand people in the Rizal grandstand on their feet.

Both sides went close to open the scoring in the first half, as Mary Indac's 33rd minute rocket was denied by the left post, and Irish Navaja came close several sides but the protagonists could not break a goalless standoff at half-time, in which Nicole Reyes and Palacios stood out for their stellar goalkeeping.

At the restart, UST's woes at the attacking end were made to pay by a relentless La Salle side, in which they opened the scoring in the 56th minute, when the league's leading scorer Kyra Dimaandal converted a Kyla Inquig ball and rolled it into the empty net.

Not to be outdone, the Tigresses persisted and got their deserved equalizer in the 72nd minute in arguably one of the best solo goals the season has witnessed, as Hazel Lustan ran from the half-way line before firing her right footed shot into the back of Palacios' net.

But that was all UST can muster as 15 minutes later, La Salle clinched immortality with two goals in the final three minutes that sucked the life out of the supporters from EspaƱa.

Sara CastaƱeda won it for La Salle in the 87th minute after converting on a Navaja cross after the latter.

And for a good measure deep into stoppage time, the Lady Archers got a penalty after Marielle Eusebio handled the ball inside the box.
First, and Last. Inna Palacios finally got her wish: to score before she leaves the hallowed halls of La Salle as a champion.
Stepping up inside the box was Palacios, and after 44 matches for La Salle in her UAAP career, finally nabbed her first, and last career goal in college by blasting the ensuing spot kick to finally get a cherished silverware that eluded her in 2013 and 2016.

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada