The University of the Philippines Lady Maroons enjoyed a great start to their UAAP Season 78 Women’s Football Tournament when they defeated the University of Santo Tomas Tigeresses at the McKinley Hill Stadium. Kali Huff (26′, 39 & 68′), Cristina De Los Reyes (31′) and Angeliza Sta. Clara (72′) scored for UP while Charisa Lemoran (58′), Jennizel Cabalan (70′), Nina Acuna (90+1′).
The Lady Maroons searched for a goal immediately once the match started. Kali Huff crossed the ball towards Mary Rose Obra but the latter squandered it with the UST goal at her mercy. Two more crosses from the Lady Maroons from the flanks led to clearances by the Tigresses.
UST tried to respond when Chanda Solite was fouled outside the UP penalty area. Solite then took the free kick but she failed to test UP goalkeeper Nicole Adlawan. Obra once more made her presence felt for the UP attack but she was thwarted both times by the UST defense. Marie Huff then took a shot inside the UST box but it was saved by UST keeper Ivy Lopez.
UP finally got the goal their play deserved at the 26th minute when Kali Huff raced through the left flank and scored the goal which hit the top corner from the near post of the goalpost. Five minutes later, De Los Reyes doubled UP’s lead when she penetrated into the UST box and made a clinical finish.
The Tigresses had chances afterwards which they failed to convert. Rookie Marie Lemoran forced a save from Adlawan then a goal line clearance by UP defender Mae Ardiente prevented a sure UST goal. Solite later forced another save from Adlawan.
Kali Huff scored another for the Lady Maroons at the 39th minute when she beat Lopez one on one. UP had another chance before halftime which they failed to put at the back of the net but it was all smiles for the Lady Maroons as they led 3-0 during the break.
Lemoran gave UST a good start in the second half when Adlawan was forced to make a save. However, momentum was still with UP and it showed when Obra had a header wide. De Los Reyes had another attempt but her shot went wide.
A defensive mix-up was committed by the Lady Maroons and luckily for them the Tigresses failed to pounce. The Lady Maroons still kept on attacking, though, and De Los Reyes created a chance for Marie Huff to score but the latter’s rush of blood prevented her from scoring.
Hope beckoned for UST when Lemoran got the goal her heard work earned when she scored from a quick counterattack by the Tigresses at the 58th minute. UP tried to restore their three goal cushion and Kali Huff had her free kick saved by Lopez.
Kali Huff finally completed her hattrick when her free kick went inside the UST goal at the top left corner with Lopez only being able to touch it with her finger tips.
Undeterred, the Tigresses scored their second of the game when Jennizel Cabalan evaded the Lady Maroons defense to claw one back for her team at the 70th minute. But the Lady Maroons never stopped attacking and Sta. Clara rounded Lopez to score UP’s fifth goal in the match two minutes later.
Sta. Clara had another chance to score from a corner but Lopez caught the ball in midair. The Lady Maroons had an injury scare late in the game when Kali Huff went down on the pitch. She was seen clutching her leg and was stretchered off the match.
With the game still on, Nina Acuna scored UST’s third goal when her looper from the left flank outside of the box went inside the UP goal in the 91st minute. Nevertheless, the Lady Maroons were able to hold on to the valuable three points.
UP head coach Anto Gonzales had an air of disappointment after the game. “We played a fantastic first thirty minutes, rest of the game we played crappy. Second half we started very flat in the midfield. First five minutes, we allowed UST to take control of the game. It started with the midfield. It’s difficult. Once you gave even a down team the confidence they need, it’s gonna be tough. I thought our backline had problems with their organization, dealing with the two forwards. We were too flat. We were caught off guard. They were able to turn then that created us all sorts of problems especially with Lemoran and dun nanggaling yung problema. We already talked about it in training: check Cabalan and Lemoran. Always check.”
Gonzales added that he instructed his players to still play like it’s 0-0 in the second half despite their 3-0 lead. He then rued the three goals conceded and warned that other teams in the UAAP will be able to capitalize more on their chances. With regards to Kali Huff, “I hope that it’s not that bad. It doesn’t look good from how I saw it. I hope it’s not that worse.”