The regular season for Liga MX Femenil’s 2019 Apertura finally came to an end this week and while the Liguilla match-ups have been determined, some last minute statements and strong endings could make for interesting playoff games. Here are my main takeaways for Week 19:
1) Xolos makes their first Liguilla appearance! Xolos’ final match of the season against Cruz Azul started off shaky, with Brenda Leon opening up the scoreline with a rebound in the 27th minute for La Maquina to take the lead early in the match. Things only got more complicated when Leon cemented her brace just eight minutes later to end the first half with a 2-0 deficit for Xolos Femenil. However, Xolos’ fighting spirit and their ability to take advantage of counters came back at the right time in the second half, starting off with a goal from Renae Cuellar who has been instrumental in executing those counters and netted number 12 with her strong header. Isabel Fonseca would level it up for Xolos in the 77th minute and was enough to get them the draw and see them advance in the Liguilla round for the first time in club history.
Cuellar ended the season in 4th of the goal-scoring race, converting every 127 minutes and scored over 40 percent of her team’s overall goals. The team’s ability to recover and support Cuellar enough to open the space or send her a perfectly placed ball in the air will work well if executed properly but they’ll need just a little more going into the Liguilla against powerhouse Tigres Femenil. Fighting for the draw after trailing two should motivate them entering Thursday.
2) Monterrey’s historic regular season. After gabbing about the impressive live performance I was able to witness last week, Monterrey ended the season with yet another victory, beating Pumas 2-1 and remaining undefeated at home the entire 2019 Apertura regular season. I have said it before but in line with recent soccer events, Monterrey very much has had a LAFC season going for them. The end saw them with 48 points, 52 goals in favor, sixteen victories and only two losses. Not to mention being lled by the goal-scoring leader, Desiree Monsivais, who tied with Pachuca’s Viridiana Salazar for the golden boot with 17 goals. The only thing that seems to be stopping them at this point is themselves, having made the final twice but falling short against regional rivals Tigres Femenil. They’ll face off against eighth place Atlas in the quarterfinals and unless the craziness of Liguilla suddenly clouds their good form, it should be a smooth journey to the semifinals.
3) Chivas goes into Liguilla swinging. Losing against Monterrey was expected but the draw against Pumas in week 18 complicated things for Chivas when it came to the battle in the standings. The likelihood of qualifying for Liguilla was heavily in their favor but still, a loss to Pachuca during the final week of the season and some particular circumstances taking place in the Toluca vs. Morelia match might have seen it go a different way. However, Chivas came out strong against third place Pachuca, with Kristal Soto making a good run between players to take a shot outside the box to give Chivas the lead in the 55th minute. Maria Sanchez would score one more and secure the victory for Chivas despite a goal from Pachuca. Chivas ended the season in fifth place, making it to a Liguilla in strong form after missing out last season and looking sharp to face their eternal rivals, América in the Apertura playoffs. With a strong midfield featuring Tania Morales and rising star Nicole Perez, Chivas will look to dominate an América who will be playing off their emotional motivation to make for an exciting Clasico Nacional in the Liguilla.