Powered by a first half goal from Marie Huff and the lightning-quick reflexes of goalkeeper AJ Javier, the University of the Philippines Women’s football team escaped a flurry of late strikes from their opponents to take the 1-0 victory over rivals defending champions Far Eastern University, Sunday afternoon at the FEU-FERN football field in Quezon City.
FEU’s Jean Bridgette Kadil had the chance to draw first blood at the 13th minute, getting hold of the inside pass to fire one on the keeper point-blank, but the ball was swatted away by UP goalie Javier, the first of many spectacular blocks throughout the fixture. Another chance at getting their first goal came in the 27th minute, after Jinky Sales managed to get into position to strike one from just inside the penalty box, but the ball would sail past the net.
UP’s first great attempt would come at 34th minute, after Kali Huff managed to convert a free kick from just beyond the penalty box into a powerful strike that almost went past FEU goalie Sheramae Ramos, but the ball was blocked off by a header from FEU defender Hannah Faith Pacheco.
It was Marie Huff who drew first blood at the 42nd minute, catching the volley from her sister Kali and heading the ball into the net to bag one for the Lady Maroons.
FEU’s Barbie Ann Sobredo had the chance to equalize just as the 45th minute came along, escaping the UP defense to get one-on-one with the UP goalie, but had the ball swept from her feet before she could pull-up for the kick. The first half would end with UP still on top by 1-0.
The early second half saw the Lady Tamaraws shift their focus on their counterattack, and at 54th minute FEU’s Alesa Dolina got into position for a potentially lethal strike from just inside the penalty area, but the shot was swatted away by the UP defense.
Commotion broke out around the 65th minute after tempers flared between UP’s Kali Huff collided FEU’s Alina Rose Araneta just along the wing. Players from both teams had to swarm the scene of the scuffle to keep the belligerents apart from each other, and cooler heads would soon prevail before any more shoves be thrown.
The remainder of the half saw FEU continue to mount attack after attack. Dolino, FEU’s go-to girl for free kicks found herself keeping the UP faithful on their edges of their seats, converting every and each one of her free kicks into a clear on strike on the goal, but found herself stopped by the swift reflexes of UP goalie Javier.
UP had one last golden opportunity to nail the coffin for FEU, after Marie Huff found herself one-on-one with the FEU keeper after squeezing past the Tamaraw defenders, but the point-blank shot was blocked off by goalie Ramos.
The last ten minutes of the second half and the four minutes given as injury time saw FEU successfully control possession to build set piece after set piece and keep the UP defense on their toes. The Lady Tamaraws suffered another setback when Barbie Ann Sobredo was sent off the field after receiving her second yellow card of the game, at just around the 90th minute. FEU would manage to put up another couple of good attacks in the dying minutes of the injury time, but none would get into the net.