Far Eastern University (FEU) has cemented their pride of having the best collegiate football program in the Philippines, winning its third treble and the first UAAP titles after a three-year suspension of hostilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Women booters finished the job for one of the country’s most prestigious universities as the Lady Tamaraws dethroned the De La Salle University Lady Archers, 2-1, after extra time in the final of the UAAP women’s football tournament Sunday evening at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Super rookie forward Regine Rebosura, from the obscurity of street football in Payatas to her debut in Philippine football’s most prestigious pitch, scored a brace to lead her team to its 11th championship.
“Pinagpaguran namin ito at gusto naming manalo para makuha ang treble,” a gassed Rebosura said by the end of the game.
After a goalless first half, the Lady Tamaraws scored from a left corner set piece as Rookie of the Year Rebosura extricated a heel strike off a header assist by defender Lyka Cuenco in the 46th minute.
The defending champions frantically sought for the equalizer, but league Best Striker Angelica Teves’ free kick from 20 yards on top in the 60th minute was saved by FEU goalkeeper Jessa Lehayan.
Lehayan then tallied two more saves, frustrating a tap in front by Shai del Campo in the 80th minute and a header on goal by Chennie Dañoso in the 82nd minute.
An equalizer was almost clinched by the Lady Archers in the succeeding minute but MJ Villacin was offside when she goaled with a counterattacking strike off a left cross by Del Campo.
Losing grip of the championship with seconds left in the second half stoppage time, national team standout Del Campo pumped life into the La Sallian change, heading in the equalizer off a nifty right volley cross by ex-national Rochelle Mendaño to force extra time.
Rejuvenating their fluidity on offense lost after Rebosura’s opener, FEU created chances in the second half of extra time but two straight shots on goal by Leofrance Gayapa and Sarahgen Tulabing in the 108th minute were saved by La Salle goalkeeper Alexandrea Gumilao.
Amidst the heavy downpour of summer rain, it was La Salle’s turn to go ahead in the next minute but Del Campo’s 1v1 attack from the left flank was contained by fullback Kyla Doctora while Mendaño’s free kick from 25 yards on top of the box went wide left.
Despite her excellent goalkeeping for 118 minutes, Gumilao botched her long ball to La Salle’s midfield, as her goal kick was intercepted by central midfielder Katrina Magbitang, en route to a counterattacking strike by Gayapa.
Gumilao intercepted the strike but it fell on the left boot of an unmarked Rebosura, who tapped in her brace from three yards, outpacing the exhausted La Sallian back line.
“That’s the highlight of my team—until it’s over, they never give up,” FEU head coach Let Dimzon said after the game. “Considering that most of La Salle’s players come from the youth national team and my players don’t have that much experience, but the way they work on the field is commendable.”
“Hindi kami bumase sa score, lumaban kami sa dulo. One last game na lang kami kaya binuhos na namin ang lahat para manalo kami,” said Magbitang, who was named the season’s Most Valuable Player.
As mentioned, this championship run—the first clinched in extra time in the winner-take-all final era—completed a treble for the Tamaraws as its men’s team won last Thursday, 4-1, against Ateneo de Manila while the boys’ team won the first of the triple crown with a similar 2-1 score, also after extra time.
The Lady Tamaraws last won the title in 2015, in a team led by Dai Dolino and Ina Araneta, in FEU’s second treble year.
* * *