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Lipa Emmanuel FC: Trying to Cope with Player Transfers

Image from the BCAS FC Facebook page.
Image from the BCAS FC Facebook page.
Of the ten clubs of the second season of the Lipa Football League, perhaps the one that has had to cope the most with the loss of players during the offseason is last season’s first runners-up Lipa Emmanuel FC, which then played as BCAS FC. That exhilarating run to the final included a 5-all draw with eventual champions FC Reigning Kickers on opening day and a 6-1 demolition of a badly off-form ACF Real Molinillo in the group stage.

The run eventually came to a disappointing end after a 4-1 loss to the Reigning Kickers in the final last February, but the youngsters were probably always going to find the championship game a bridge too far. But to the young team, the second place finish was by no means a failure.

Unfortunately, as happens to most teams with a base of student players, Lipa Emmanuel has had, in the offseason, to contend with the loss of players either through graduation or the transfer of schools. That the loss was significant is an understatement.

Last year’s run was anchored to a large extent on the midfield strength of Mark Roy Gulang, an immigrant to Batangas from Mindanao. Gulang was already registered in the LFL with BCAS FC when he transferred schools in October from Batangas College of Arts and Sciences to the University of Batangas main campus, so he continued to represent BCAS FC.

A restless soul, Gulang moved schools again this year to FAITH in Tanauan City. With no more affiliation with BCAS, Gulang has opted to represent his parent club ACF Real Molinillo de Lipa.

Also suiting up for Real Molinillo is goalkeeper Christian Rongavilla, who last season alternated between the sticks with Oliver Merin for BCAS FC. Like Gulang, Rongavilla has also transferred schools to FAITH, for which he is now at senior high school and keeps goal at varsity level. With Real Molinillo, he alternates in the starting goalkeeper’s role with the veteran Kenneth Paul Patajo.

The final BCAS FC player who moved in the offseason to Real Molinillo is Patrick Reyes, who admittedly was a bit player in the run to the final last season. Reyes, who has been playing football for less than a year but is nonetheless a natural football player, has graduated from BCAS and is now a freshmen at the Batangas State University Alangilan campus. He missed Real Molinillo’s opening game in September but was involved in the club’s second round match, ironically against Lipa Emmanuel.

Lipa Emmanuel suffered a crushing loss to ACF Real Molinillo in the second round of the LFL.
Lipa Emmanuel suffered a crushing loss to ACF Real Molinillo in the second round of the LFL.
Meanwhile, Rennerjohn Masongsong, who scored eight goals for BCAS FC in Season 1, has also graduated from high school and has since enrolled at De la Salle Lipa. Slight of built but versatile and with clinical finishing, Masongsong now represents the Green Stallions FC in the second season of the LFL. He has yet to fire with his new club, failing to score in the 11-2 romp over Kings FC. However, his goalscoring record speaks for itself and that he will find the net soon is more a when than an if.

Despite the loss of key players, Lipa Emmanuel’s coach Gregg Anthony Atijon has not been idle, recruiting new players from within BCAS in a move to rebuild his side. Among the new recruits have been Kyle Tiopo, who has quickly claimed the starting rightback role; Johnmedal Pureza, Eivan Velasco and goalkeeper Jan Michael Cruz.

He has also recruited from outside BCAS and added physical maturity and height to the side with the capture of Jan Leobel Melo, Romulo Vidal and Kemwell NiƱo Vegas. Crucially, he has also persuaded Russel Leyson, among BCAS FC’s key players last season, to return and play under him again. Leyson has already graduated from high school and now goes to college at Mapua University.

And while defender Vince Paulo Calanog, another of the key performers for BCAS last season, has also transferred schools to FAITH like Rongavilla and Gulang, he has also been persuaded to continue suiting up for the club in its new incarnation as Lipa Emmanuel. His presence adds steel to the new-look defense.

Defender Vince Paulo Calanog (right) continues to suit up for Lipa Emmanuel.  Image from Karlyn Vivas.
Defender Vince Paulo Calanog (right) continues to suit up for Lipa Emmanuel.  Image from Karlyn Vivas.
In the new season of the LFL, Lipa Emmanuel is counting on its captain, Luise Emmanuel Silva, rising up to the challenge. Silva, a cultured left-sided player, is the present line-up’s most experienced player, having represented Lipa in the Batangas Provincial Meet in November 2017.

After pipping Kings FC, 4-3, in this season’s opening match, Lipa Emmanuel unfortunately suffered a crushing 1-7 reverse against the vastly more experienced Real Molinillo. The final scoreline may appear to flatter Molinillo, but the youngsters of Lipa Emmanuel kept them scoreless for so long that even this early, it is evident that Atijon is again building a team that will one day be capable of challenging for LFL honors.

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