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VENGEANCE: Nursing Women’s Football Team Ripped Medicine for Gold

By: Alfred Benedict R. Garrido

A year and ninety full minutes are not enough for the Nursing Women’s Football team to gain vengeance and leave the ghost of the past as they buried the Faculty of Medicine Women’s Football team in a dramatic penalty shootout, 5-3, crowning themselves champions of the 2010-2011 UST Goodwill Games Football tournament

After the majestic rematch of last year’s finals transpired to a scoreless full time, the fate of the game is laid on the boots of five gladiators from each army.

Nursing’s captain Nikka Aquino, who played huge in every outing, began the charge by drilling the first goal providing the lift for Nursing, 1-0. Star midfielder Lady Anne So and freshman hard hitter Neeza Velasquez traded blows against Medicine’s pure power, scratching the scoreboard at 3-3. With the scores tied and the chip on the line, Nursing loaded its final ammo. Sophomore fever Roni Mendoza stabbed the fourth dagger for Medicine’s trouble, 4-3, before Nursing’s goal keeper Shayne Palma dove in for a heroic save denying Medicine booter Carissa Dumancas’ equalizer. Before a celebrating sideline, Defender Lani Sarmiento hammered down the last nail in the grieving Medicine’s cold coffin, 5-3.

“It’s just the will to win,” said Aquino who gains her first title in three years of play for the squad. “Even if we were all tired, in pain and out of breath, we just continued to push ourselves”.

The Road to Redemption
Last year at that very moment, silence deafened the Nursing sideline and the sound of the whistle marking full time broke the team’s hearts, knowing that the 1-0 scoreboard did not favor their side. But that did not end there. While the Faculty of Medicine grabbed the coveted crown, that whistle - that ending - without their knowledge, was Nursing’s first step to redemption.

After a painful and hard summer and being refreshed by loads of rookies, the Nursing Women’s Football team emerged from being a surprise underdog last season to a full blown contender. And, after a year of teeth gnashing, they unleashed fury to start the season this year, punishing teams like the College of Accountancy and Goodwill games giant Faculty of Engineering. It turned out, the elimination round is a piece of cake, with cherries on top.

Tangled with a streaking Commerce team, the quarterfinals was uneasy after all and took a lot of effort to victor in. The unending stoppage and blow out defense by the St. Raymund’s-based booters gave Nursing a fight to the wire. Every piece of weapon that Nursing has was equally matched by the golden-themed ladies. Commerce has courage, power, will, and spirit. Name every Nursing weapon, they have it. But the difference settled late in the second half when a goal was scored. Commerce, though filled with arms in their arsenal, didn’t have Nikka Aquino. The Nursing’s captain is the sole treasure, Nursing’s time bomb exploding to blemish the boards, 1-0, and pull the team up straight into the semifinals arena.

Right after the Faculty of Medicine cemented their place in the finals, the painful memory from last season made Nursing more desperate in doing the same. But the College of Architecture, fierce as they were had other plans as they stood tall by Nursing’s way like hungry wolves craving for flesh. The February 19 showdown against Architecture for the right to face Medicine for the championship is not so different from what Nursing took from Commerce. Solid defense, energy, powerful offense, and a dose of physicality were fired by both troops driven by their will to win. It was, again, late in the second half when Architecture knew what they were missing. Despite the tough spirit showcased by the maroon-streaked force of Beato Angelico, nothing and no one on that day can be tougher than Nikka Aquino herself. Nursing’s messiah received a cleared ball from way up the field, stopped the leather with a single touch then launched a powerful strike that sent the ball at the bottom right corner of the goal and the Architecture goalkeeper in piles of dust. That single play was the final shovel of dirt piled in the Architecture’s grave.

“It was the passion, determination, and hard work that made us go this far”, Aquino says after clearing Architecture off their road to redemption. “Like what coach (Simeon Dalisay) said, you can’t step on the field and just give half of yourself, you have to give a hundred percent and nothing less”.

With that victory, the rematch that everybody had been waiting for was set to happen. The College of Nursing, with all the hard work, the sacrifice, the hunger, and the will to win, locked horns with the Faculty of Medicine who was looking to defend their title against the same team whom they left in disaster last year. With both teams filled with fuel and fire, the fight has once again taken them to their limit, giving the name in front of their shirts pride and glory.

“We both deserve to win but I think our team will be determined enough to go the extra mile and win this,” said Nursing midfielder Lady Anne So before clashing with their nemesis. The majestic shootout did not only prove the words of So, it forced history not to repeat itself as Nursing burr holed Medicine to take full grasp of the moment that they have been fighting for and took the championship to their possession.

After all the bleeding and the sacrificing, when the smoke clears and the title fully at Nursing’s hand, three Nursing stars earned individual recognition being keys to new heights reached by the squad. With unending effort and dedication in clearing lose balls, staying in front of her opponent and chasing for breaks, sophomore Lani Sarmiento was named Best Defender of the season. Known so well by her heroic save of Medicine’s equalizer in the shootout for gold, Shayne Palma was named Best Goalkeeper. Nikka Aquino, with all the powerful strikes she took, with all the blasting goals she landed, with the unmatched leadership she had, and with all the celebrations she danced, won Most Valuable Player award for the season. “I feel honored and happy to receive it,” said Aquino, “But I would not have done it without my amazing team.”

Still, the moment belongs to the whole Nursing community who saw their warriors sacrifice, bleed, and fight for what they believe in, especially to the Nursing Women’s Football team who survived the rage of disasters by winning the ultimate prize of the Thomasian sports pinnacle and earning redemption in the perfect time and in the moment they wanted it most.


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