The Ateneo Women’s Football Team produced three goals inside 10 late minutes to finish their PFF Women’s Cup campaign with bronze medals draped on their necks, following an intense 4-3 victory over UAAP rivals UST Sunday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
Not long after kickoff, the Ateneans went ahead in the game. From a free kick taken by Camille Rodriguez, Pamela Diaz nodded the ball past Nicole Reyes to give her team the lead in the sixth minute. The Tomasinas aimed to respond instantly but two attempts in quick succession only rattled the woodwork. Still behind, they relentlessly bombarded Ateneo with series of dangerous attacks. It took them a 27th minute strike by Charisa Lemoran to draw level with their opponents. Lemoran had plenty of room to shoot as she picked up the ball from a blocked shot by Daryl Mendoza and made no mistake from around 10 yards. The score stayed the same by halftime, with both teams looking pleased not to give away another goal before the break.
The second half was loaded with goals and it only took a couple of minutes for a score change to happen. A weak cross intended for Jennizel Cabalan was instead turned in by Ann Cabrera past teammate Kimberlee Jimenez, who had to play in between the sticks for the majority of the match. Her appearance as a goalkeeper was caused by injuries sustained by Mariane Caparros and Kitkat Montelibano. With an early breakthrough, the game opened up for both sides.
Eleven minutes after UST went ahead, Cabalan threatened to double the UST advantage. The forward weaved past the Ateneo defense to create room for her to shoot inside the box but her poor finish let her down in the end. On the other end, Martie Bautista and Diaz forced a couple of saves from Reyes who became busier in the game’s closing half. It was evident at that juncture of the match that Ateneo is increasingly gaining confidence to find a much-needed goal and despite taking a lot of time to equalize, they were able to do so with enough time left on the clock. With 13 minutes to go in normal time, Bautista pulled level for the Ateneans by beating Reyes to the ball before slotting it effortlessly into the net.
A draw in normal time would mean that the match will head to extra time and possibly, a penalty shootout. The Ateneans, who have been playing with momentum, did not seem to like the idea of playing 30 minutes more and a moment of brillance attested to that. Substitute Tessa Bernardo managed to find the back of the net from long range to successfully mount a comeback with only eight minutes left in the game. The lead did not last long though, as Cabalan beat the offside trap before chipping the ball over Jimenez a couple of minutes afterwards. Glory could not be denied to Ateneo, however, as Rodriguez had the final say in what was a pulsating finish to the match. Annika Ong’s fine delivery located the Ateneo midfielder who leapt above everyone else to guide the ball into the onion bag with the use of her head. The girls in blue held on to the lead to secure a third place finish in the 2015 PFF Women’s Cup. UST, consequently, finished the tournament in fourth place.
NOTE: The final match between DLSU and FEU was called off after 32 minutes of action. The postponement of the match was caused by thunderstorm which caused the pitch to be waterlogged. –LGT