Moravia (pictured) gathers for a team photo prior to the Costa Rican Apertura final, first-leg match against host Saprissa on September 11, 2016, in Tibas, San Jose, Costa Rica. (Photo courtesy of Union Femenina de Futbol Costa Rica)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – For Costa Rican women’s side Moravia, 2016 has proven to be a very productive year.
In May, it captured the inaugural UNCAF Women’s Inter-Club Championship with a 1-0 win over Guatemala’s UNIFUT in the final. That achievement was followed last month with the 2016 Costa Rican Apertura title.
Much of that success was due to the play of standout forward Karla Villalobos, who scored once in the two-legged final (28 goals for the season) that saw Moravia edge Saprissa, 4-3 on aggregate.
The 30-year-old Costa Rica international was impressed by the support of the home fans, who turned out in significant numbers for a 1-1 draw in the second leg.
“There were 3,000 people in the stadium, so for us it was important to win,” said Villalobos. “It was another example of the growth of women’s football here in Costa Rica.”
Under the guidance of head coach Bernal Castillo, Moravia topped host Saprissa, 3-2, in series opener. It was a tight, tense affair, but an adjustment by Castillo during the break -- with the score level at 1-1 (Villalobos netted the 30th minute equalizer) -- allowed the visitor to press ahead after the break.
“Saprissa’s ground is a difficult place for us,” Castillo told CONCACAF.com. “It was windy, so we started playing with a 4-4-2 in order to have more possession of the ball. At halftime, we switched and went out with a more aggressive 4-3-3, which forced Saprissa into mistakes. It was a great win for us because we have a rivalry with Saprissa and it showed that we were capable of triumphing.”
With the Clausura already off and running, a number of clubs will be looking to displace Moravia as Costa Rica’s top side. Castillo understands that repeating will be a tall task, since clubs are now starting to pour more resources into women’s football.
“I see development, a growth of the bases,” he finished. “There are more girls in schools playing football. There are projects in clubs. It is promising. With an economic boost, women’s football can go far in Costa Rica and Moravia is happy to help be part of that process.”