Last weekend was a glorious period in UA&P sports history as three of our varsities fought their hearts out against Enderun Colleges. In Women’s Colleges Sports Association (WCSA) Basketball, the UA&P Women’s Basketball Team made it to the semi-finals match against Enderun, with a final score of 32-78 in favor of the Titans. The UA&P Women’s Futsal Team fought the Titans hard in the WCSA Futsal finals; the game ended 0-2 in favor of Enderun. Finally, in the Men’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (MNCAA), the UA&P Men’s Futsal Team finished the game at 3-5, Enderun being crowned the new league champions after the Dragons’ 2-year reign.
In all three games, our Dragons were met with an insurmountable force. But our student-athletes deserve all the praise and support for giving Enderun a hard time. Let’s take a closer look at each game.
After three consecutive home court wins by the UA&P Women’s Basketball Team, including a long-sought-after victory over San Beda College Alabang, the Dragons faced the Titans for the WCSA semifinals last Saturday, March 18, 2017, in St. Scholastica’s College. The Dragons were handicapped with only seven players able to play from their 11-player roster due to injuries. Of their four experienced seniors, only Sarrah Costan (#5) and captain Kathy Gatmaitan (#17) were healthy enough to play in the vanguard. Amid these setbacks, UA&P blazed with some excellent plays to cut Enderun’s lead, including two consecutive 3’s from Feriza Fernando (#9). However, Enderun came out playing even harder as they nabbed several fast break points towards the end, ending the game 32-78.
The future of the UA&P WBT
In an interview, Costan said that it would be a challenge for the team to rebuild due to graduating players like their captain. Nevertheless, she is hopeful that the team will keep improving representing the school in future leagues. She is especially happy in seeing their key bigs Hannah Sy (#14) and Drew Rabadon (#11) become better.
Entering their first WCSA finals after several years, the young UA&P Women’s Futsal Team, despite their many rookies and injured players, were eager to test their mettle against the Enderun Titans last Sunday, March 19, at 10:00AM in the UA&P Parking and Sports Building (PSB). As the first half commenced, the teams were on almost equal footing. Both teams defended their sides of the court tightly. Enderun’s Wolf (#8) had many open looks at the goal. However, all of her shots went wide or were saved by the Dragons’ goalie and former captain, Nicole So (#1). Nicole So would be on fire throughout the whole ballgame.
A few minutes into the first half, UA&P’s Ivy Sunga (#20), solid on defense, received a yellow card for a mild foul. Moments later, Enderun drove the ball into the back of the net. But to their disappointment, the referees from the Philippine Football Federation did not count it due to a foul some seconds before the shot. The first half ended at 0-0.
At the start of the second half, Seed (#20) tackled Evanmarie Mendoza (#5) badly, producing a yellow card for Enderun. However, it did not stop the offender from scoring the first goal from a short-range corner play shortly after. An Enderun corner caught UA&P off-guard as the Titans took it quickly without giving the defenders a chance to stabilize. Nicole So, unshaken from conceding a goal, kept saving the ball shot after shot.
During the last few minutes, Janina Fuentes (#14) of UA&P was fouled by Rivilla (#6) who then received a yellow card, but UA&P could not convert the free kick. The finals match looked as if it was going to end 0-1. But during the very last second of the game, a handball inside the penalty area gave Enderun one last attempt. With Rivilla taking the penalty, Nicole So was able to get a piece of the ball, but it was too strong and ended up in the bottom right corner. The match concluded 0-2 in favor of the Titans.
UA&P WFT in the seasons to come
Enderun took home the WCSA trophy, followed closely in rank by UA&P and Assumption College. Rightfully so, Nicole So earned the honor of being part of the mythical team for her incredibly hard and consistent saves. With So graduating this year, the team is left with a developing young core under its current captain Charles Ignacio (#4). Reminded of the young roster of the Los Angeles Lakers after Kobe’s retirement, I am very excited to see how things will turn out for the UA&P Women’s Futsal Team for the seasons to come.
The fierce rivalry between the UA&P Men’s Futsal Team and their Enderun counterpart is one of the things that make all of their games a must-watch. The tension between the teams makes it evident that their passion runs through their blood. The Titans defeated UA&P 4-6 last February 19 in MNCAA. Under their coach Mr. Chris Dominguez, wearing his iconic business casual outfit, they were ready for a rematch. Our Dragons were going for an MNCAA three-peat championship.
Despite being almost equally matched, the rival teams have a few key differences. UA&P, in their all-red kit, warmed up with a small pick-up game among themselves using half of the court, highlighting the value for team synergy, while Enderun did various shooting drills. Enderun also had a slight size advantage, but in futsal, this factor is rarely considered a gamebreaker. Lastly, in the game, it could be observed that UA&P sported the diamond formation while the Titans went for a square.
Louie Cacho (#8), Judd Villacrucis (#14), Shawn Haosen (#11), goalkeeper Dood Santos (#1), and team captain Enzo Hermosa (#7) started off the championship match. The game started off hot as Hermosa intercepted an enemy pass. He attempted just a few moments after the first whistle, driving the crowd wild. With the ball failing to cross the goal line, the Titans took possession, playing it slow and passive, until they burst into attack. Santos saved an on-target Enderun attempt, but Theuer (#12) scored on the rebound. The right side of the bleachers, populated by Enderun supporters in burgundy shirts, broke into a cheer. UA&P brought the ball back to center court with hopes of equalizing as soon as possible.
As the Dragons prepared to strike back, Luigio Miranda (#10)’s fancy footwork confused the Enderun defender Ricamora (#14) into committing a foul and receiving a yellow card. The game progressed with misses from both sides, including a shot from Coby Daez (#17) bouncing off the upright. Just as it seemed that the first half was going to end in an Enderun lead, Hermosa intercepted the ball. He then attempted at the goal, but the defender blocked it with a handball. The referees awarded UA&P with a last minute penalty. The ball exploded past the keeper and for a second, the net appeared to be at the verge of breaking.
The crowded bleachers, with red flags bearing the word “UNITAS,” cheered on with this ground-breaking goal, but the hype was not entirely the same without the UA&P Drumline beating to their hearts. According to Drumline member Gab Constantino, officials recently passed an ordinance preventing them from making too much noise. But school spirit still burned as the crowd shouted “Let’s go Dragons, let’s go!” and “UA&P — yeah!” throughout the game. With this, Hermosa successfully evened out the score and the half ended 1-1.
The starting minute of the second half immediately saw a goal from Ricamora, who scored from a gap in UA&P’s defense. Orlandez Jr. (#10) quickly followed with another goal some three minutes afterward, bringing the score to 1-3 in favor of Enderun. UA&P’s team captain led the charge to retaliate, but Orlandez Jr. fouled him and received a yellow card for a bad slide tackle.
At this point, UA&P was pressing the attack, but a failed play gave Orlandez Jr. an opportunity to score from a counterattack, bumping up the score to 1-4. Eventually, Hermosa, still full of zeal despite Enderun’s continuous onslaught, scored from the far post, assisted by Francis Vidanes (#5). With 6 minutes and 52 seconds remaining, the clock stopped for a timeout. Aside from the coaches’ instructions and the anxious murmurs from the crowd, the rest of the gym was silent. It was a nail-biting moment.
The game continued and soon developed into a Titan assault. With momentum in the opponent’s hands, Enderun’s Miranda (#19) scored an easy goal from a wall pass. With the game at 2-5, Daez’s slick moves managed to get him past several defenders. This gave him enough space to feed to ball to Paolo Garciano (#9) for a goal at close range. This goal would turn out to be the last goal of the game.
The closing minutes of the game were characterized by several final attempts from both sides, UA&P hoping to at least equalize and Enderun wanting to increase their score even more. During one of these final plays, Haosen received a yellow card from blocking Orlandez Jr.’s path. However, time permitted neither side to change their fate. The final whistle blew with 3 and 5 on the scoreboard, and the Enderun Titans are the new MNCAA champions.
The Enderun players euphorically celebrated in the middle of the court as their fans chanted “Olé, Olé, Olé,” minutes after which the red crowd also expressed their support by shouting “UA&P, UA&P, UA&P.” Being a hardcore fan of the sport myself, I could only imagine how the UA&P Men’s Futsal Team might have felt after such an intense match, especially for the graduating players: Haosen, Garciano, Villacrucis, Santos Jr., and finally, Hermosa, who was inducted into the season’s mythical team.
UA&P MFT Future is “looking bright”
In an interview, the retiring captain said that the whole team learned from the loss. He mentioned how their skills could only improve from here. Regarding the graduating seniors, he said that this is the time for the young ones to step up. In addition, he said that they are pulling their own weight without relying on the seniors. He finished by saying, “We are lucky enough that we still get passionate and skillful players even if we do not have [a] scholarship. The future looks bright for the UA&P Men’s Futsal Team.”
In basketball and futsal, more points mean victory. But more than victory, what makes a sport beautiful is how each athlete struggles from tryouts to graduation. The point when students decide that they would sacrifice evening after evening of body pain and criticisms is a victory. Every time a player chooses to pass the ball to an open teammate instead of dribbling alone is a victory. Last weekend, the UA&P community witnessed three glorious victories — a spectacular display of what it means to be a true sportsman in the face of a Titanic opponent.