An unlikely hero emerged in the Philippine women’s football team as late sub Nicole Ramores lifted Kaya Iloilo to its first ever PFF Women’s League crown, 1-0, against a ten-a-side Manila Digger on Saturday’s final at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Entering the pitch midway in the second half, Ramores, an alumna of Enderun College and formerly of Army FC, rebounded on a poor clearance by Mea Bernal off Sara Castañeda’s strike to pierce the seemingly impenetrable gloves of Ayisha Simpson in the 85th minute.
The goal was enough to send the dominant Kaya on top of the podium despite seven more minutes of injury time, as Digger never had a good chance in their final third for almost the entirety of the second half.
Golden Glove awardee Simpson, hero of Digger’s penalty shootout win versus Far Eastern University (FEU) in the semifinals, was again splendid in between the goal posts, saving and deflecting numerous Kaya attacks on goal, which kept the game goalless despite Kaya’s dominance on possessions and final third opportunities.
This was exemplified when Simpson barely saved Camille Rodriguez’s penalty kick in the 56th minute resulting from a foul by Princess Caparida on her inside the penalty box.
The physical match was marked by the booking of Digger striker Hannah Pachejo with a red card in the 25th minute due to a second yellow card as a result of shoving Christine Hulleza, which ultimately weakened Digger’s offense from then on.
In the battle for third, a 53rd minute goal by Dionesa Tolentine broke the tie as reigning PFF Women’s Cup champions Lady Tamaraws nipped dethroned three-time PFF Women’s League champs De La Salle University, 2-1.
With tonight’s win, Kaya has won a season double as the men’s team earlier this year won the Philippines Football League Championship.
The Iloilo-based squad will shoot for a treble as their men’s side will face Davao Aguilas in the final of the Philippines’ Football League Copa Paulino Alcantara.
Aside from Simpson’s Golden Glove, De La Salle’s Angelica Teves and Tuloy’s Isabella Bandoja shared the Golden Boot as the season’s top scorers; FEU’s Dionela Albiño was named Best Defender; Kaya’s Charisa Lemoran bagged the Golden Ball; and Lemoran’s teammate Shelah Cadag was hailed as the Most Valuable Player.
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