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Ateneo ends season on a high with narrow win over UST

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Cecille Dayrit punctuated her UAAP career with a decisive goal that boosted her team’s chances of finishing third as Ateneo edged UST, 1-0, earlier at the Moro Lorenzo Football Field.

The teams began the game more defensively, seemingly doing their best not to fall behind early. Free kick attempts by both UST’s Jena Abuan and Ateneo’s Aina Martin caused moments of concern but keepers Mariane Caparros of Ateneo and UST’s Rara Luna were able to prevent a vital second touch by recovering the ball immediately. At the 17th minute, Kimberlee Jimenez sent the ball towards the path of Maan Cadayona but Luna was alert enough to get to the ball first. Meanwhile, Pearl Aguilar had the same scenario as Cadayona’s two minutes after when she was beaten by Caparros off Abuan’s delivery.

It remained a tightly-contested affair but midway through the half it became a game of runs. Ateneo had their moments instantly after UST’s chance. A quickly-taken corner by Martin was tapped to Camille Rodriguez who then crossed the ball to captain Dayrit, but her shot went off target. Twenty-three minutes into the game, Martin found space to shoot; her effort was blocked by Luna. Soon after, the girls in gold turned the game’s momentum around.

Hazel Lustan had two chances, one foiled by Caparros while the other was stopped. Sheen Ramores headed her attempt wide while Caparros also snuffed out Aguilar’s in the box. On the other side, Patricia Punsalan was in the center of two chances. The first one was her going clean through but Aira Ilan caught pace to rob Punsalan of the ball. Luna then cut Rodriguez’s ball towards Punsalan.

Afterwards, Caparros caught Lustan’s well-struck shot on goal. Abuan misfired a free kick attempt before Ateneo went on to launch their last attack of the half just three minutes before the break. Mia Catedrilla’s cross to Rodriguez led to Luna almost committing an error only for the goalkeeper to promptly take the ball. The last chance to change the score in the half came to UST’s Abuan but her long range shot lacked accuracy, prompting the teams to enter the interval still goalless.

The home team played with more aggression in the second half, but it was the visitors who initially created an opportunity care of Aguilar whose shot was deflected. Soon, the Ateneans were denied twice of going ahead when the shots of Martin and Dayrit were kept out by UST defense. In the resulting corner of Dayrit’s blocked shot, the skipper tapped in to get her team in front just 10 minutes into the second half. Rodriguez almost found Nona Amoncio with a cross moments later but was instead cleared out for a eventually unsuccessful corner.

Opportunity grew sparse heading into the final whistle with both teams having at least two good chances each. Ateneo’s chances of doubling their lead were from Rodriguez who was denied by Luna on her try at the 66th minute. Thirteen minutes after, her cross almost trickled inside Luna’s goal. For UST, Ramores, Princess Aguilar, and Abuan all missed the target, ending the game 1-0 in favor of Ateneo.

“There was really apprehension for the players to score and move,” claimed Ateneo coach Bob Manlulo who thought the girls started jittery. Eventually, his players were able to shake it off. “In the first half. They cannot control the ball properly and the attacking system was not in place. Unlike in the second half they were more relaxed and there was composure in attacking,” he gleefully continued.

Speaking after the loss, UST coach Judal Sorito was helplessly dismayed with the result. “Medyo nakakalungkot kasi supposed to be dapat aim namin manalo, pero parte ‘yun ng football, may talo talaga,” he commented.

Ateneo is almost assured of a third consecutive third place finish barring a DLSU win over UP by four or more goals. That game is ongoing as of press time. UST finished the season in last with only six points of the maximum 24.

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