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Lady Maroons edge DLSU counterparts via late scoring spree

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Two goals inside the last 10 minutes of normal time courtesy of Kali Huff and Molly Manalansan separated the Finals-bound UP Lady Maroons from the fourth-placed DLSU Women’s Football Team to close out the elimination round of UAAP Season 77 Women’s Football at the Moro Lorenzo Football Field on Saturday night.

UP had much of the chances in the game but their opponents threatened initially. Nina Arrieta’s free kick went straight to UP goalkeeper Nicole Adlawan nine minutes in. Three minutes after, Chelo Hodges penetrated towards the UP penalty area but Marie Huff provided ample defending to keep DLSU’s top scorer from altering the score. Shortly, Kyla Inquig had a glimpse of goal but her 19th minute effort was dealt with well by Adlawan. All but one of the succeeding chances then fell to the Lady Maroons.

A minute following Inquig’s chance, M. Huff barged into the DLSU box but lost possession after being adjudged to have committed an infraction. First year player Sabrina Nierras almost gave UP the lead but her 28th minute attempt was saved by DLSU goalkeeper Inna Palacios. Four minutes after, Mary Obra was legally impeded by Mary Duran inside the box according to the referee who instantly signaled to turn down the penalty claim. K. Huff then entered on the next dead ball to replace Blessie Perez. The substitute made impact right away, testing the DLSU defense by firing two attempts blocked by Palacios and Regine Metillo. Against the run of play, Nicole Andaya saw an opening but her tame shot had no way of getting past Adlawan. Entering halftime, Cristina Delos Reyes launched two dangerous crosses but La Salle’s defense survived to go into halftime goalless.

The second half was more of the same. UP dominated the tempo but La Salle opened the period with a shot at goal. Just three minutes into the second half, Arrieta’s free kick almost caused a stir in the UP box but Manalansan got to clear the ball away from danger. Two quick chances from Delos Reyes and K. Huff then followed inside the first five minutes but were kept out by La Salle’s unwavering defense. Chances then were limited as both teams coped with each other as time expired. UP had the better of the exchanges with K. Huff finding Christille Ardiente inside the DLSU penalty area only for the latter to misfire in front of Palacios.

The Lady Maroons’ perseverance and dominance were eventually rewarded with two quick goals coming in the 81st minute and 83rd minute. The first one saw M. Huff locate her sister K. Huff with space up front. The younger sister then managed to flick the ball into the net to score the opening goal. With the advantage clearly held by UP, they immediately guaranteed the three points when Manalansan drilled in a shot as she was unmarked inside La Salle’s 18-yard box. The two-goal lead was too much for DLSU to overcome after only having one clear chance, which fell to Metillo whose attempt from 20 yards sailed wide. The final whistle sounded with UP heading into the finals as winners.

UP coach Anto Gonzales delightfully said, “They have to be happy with their performance. Everyone, parang gutom pa rin. ‘Yon ‘yung maganda. They really did not want to settle for just qualifying. I thought we really played well today.” He also noted that the team still needs polishing in an aspect or two as they brace for the challenge of dethroning FEU 15 days from now.

As for DLSU coach Hans Smit, the rebuilding process from last year’s dismal bottom finish is still far from complete. “I didn’t expect too much talaga from this team,” he uttered. He revealed that there is a long way to go for his players who will have to prove their worth once tryouts commence later this year. DLSU improves slightly as they finish the season in fourth place in the five-team tournament.

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