Courtesy of two goals inside the last 30 minutes of the game, the DLSU Lady Booters emerged victorious at the expense of the league-leading UP Lady Maroons with a 2-0 win on a hot and humid Wednesday afternoon at the Moro Lorenzo Football Field.
DLSU assistant coach Alvin Ocampo expressed satisfaction with the girls’ performance saying, “Today lang na hindi diesel performance nila. No need to wait for halftime to make adjustments. Sa umpisa pa lang, nakapag-prepare na sila.” He also was pleased with the way the girls executed what they planned against the Lady Maroons.
UP got the first decent chance of the game five minutes into the match care of Mary Obra. The forward had space on the left side of the box but her shot was easily collected by DLSU goalkeeper Inna Palacios. In the following minute, Megan Diaz almost gave La Salle the lead. Chelo Hodges found the third year winger whose shot found the back of the net only for her effort to be ruled offside.
Diaz had her sights on goal again at the 11th minute. The third year winger reacted first to rebound off Regine Metillo’s free kick only for it to be wasted as she fired wide. On the other side of the pitch, Kali Navea-Huff’s corner found her sister Marie whose header was safely gathered by Palacios.
Back-and-forth play ensued which prevented both teams from producing clear-cut chances. UP had more control of possession but their attempts on goal were not good enough to test Palacios. La Salle had a couple of good moments in the last 10 minutes of the half. Diaz and Hodges linked up with each other but failed to produce shots that bothered UP goalkeeper Jermaine Choa Peck. Both teams went into halftime on level terms, neither able to score.
Early in the second half, Nicole Andaya almost made the rattled UP defense pay. With enough room, the sophomore player unfurled a shot on goal but lacked power, allowing Choa Peck to save it quite comfortably. In what looked like an evenly contested match, the following minutes presented chances for the Lady Maroons. In that sequence, UP rued missed opportunities from Obra and Kali, both of which were on target but were caught by Palacios with ease.
An excellent counterattacking run at the 60th minute saw Hodges and Diaz up front against three UP defenders. The rookie excellently located Diaz who outpaced everyone before chipping over Choa Peck. The goal was the first UP conceded this season, ending a season-best 330-minute long clean sheet. More importantly, it placed La Salle in an advantageous position to take maximum points against the number one side.
Now down by a goal, UP immediately looked for an answer. The minute after the breakthrough goal, Obra was unmarked with only Palacios to beat. Unfortunately for her, the DLSU goalkeeper got to the ball first to deny a possible UP equalizer. Obra was in the best position to pocket a goal for the Lady Maroons but her finishing was deficient of strength needed to stretch La Salle’s defense.
With the lead in their hands, La Salle was in pursuit of their second goal that would ultimately seal the game in their favor. Sixty-eight minutes into the match, Diaz had another go but UP’s Claudia Mendoza halted her with a timely, proper tackle inside the box. Nonetheless, the girls in green were rewarded at the 73rd minute. Chelo Hodges was wide open down the right and made no mistake by sliding in a shot past Choa Peck to double La Salle’s lead with only 17 minutes left on the clock.
Despite having enough time, UP was not able to control much of the ball to create more opportunities. In addition, the Lasallians tried to milk time with their touches to avoid UP from pulling one back. They clung on to a resounding 2-0 win to produce the latest plot twist to this exciting UAAP Season 77 women’s football tournament.
Coach Anto Gonzales was not pleased with how the Maroons played on the pitch today. However, he embraced the defeat in a positive light. “I’m happy that we lost at this stage, [still] early, because that’s when you really learn–when you lose. I’m not worried, [but] the important thing is that we bounce back,” the UP mentor declared.