Two first half goals from Charmaine Fagaragan and Roselle Lecera proved sufficient for FEU to march into solo second place after a hard-earned 2-1 win against DLSU Saturday afternoon at the Moro Lorenzo Football Field.
Fagaragan netted at the 17th minute after outpacing the La Salle defenders en route to a shot inside the box. Aware that La Salle goalkeeper Inna Palacios went forward, the FEU forward lashed a shot to an empty net to make it 1-0 for FEU. Before that, there were a couple of good shots from the UAAP 76 Champions.
At the sixth minute, Lecera almost made Regine Metillo pay but her shot off the Lasallian’s error hardly bothered Palacios. Nine minutes after that, Sharmine Siaotong’s shot was blocked off the line.
After going up, FEU continued to press for a luxurious second goal. Kimberly Cupal and Lecera both had a go but their shots were stopped by the well-positioned La Salle goalkeeper. On the other hand, La Salle’s Chermaine Guancia and Nicole Andaya attempted shots from around 20 yards but all were gathered by Joy Chavez.
At the 32nd minute, Lecera finally breached Palacios’ goal when her header went to the goalkeeper’s far side into the net. FEU were then comfortably ahead and looked like they would stroll against a woeful La Salle squad. The teams walked into half time with FEU ahead by two goals.
But the complexion of the game changed in the second half. La Salle pressed forward to reduce the deficit. Guancia had space to launch a shot but a poor touch sent the ball out of play three minutes into the second half. Alexi Arrieta also had a shot saved at the 52nd minute. It took 11 minutes for La Salle to claim a reward.
Chelo Hodges found space in the right side of FEU’s 18 yard box before clinically burying it into the bottom left corner. The goal brought La Salle back into contention of getting at least a good result in the game. Sensing momentum in their favor, the girls in green went all out to find an equalizer.
Kyla Inquig and Andaya tested the defense but their shots lacked the power to get past Chavez. The closest chance to score even fell to FEU, when Barbie Sobredo produced a goal-bound shot but her attempt was cleared just before it crossed the line. La Salle kept a goal deficit which, sadly for them, was the situation at full time.
A foul was called in favor of FEU at the 90th minute, just as La Salle was knocking on the door for an equalizer. Almost half of the three added minutes were used in setting up the free kick which led to an easy catch for Palacios. It left little time to cook up a game-tying goal for La Salle who suffered their second straight loss in the process.
Coach Let Dimzon praised her team after slowly gathering form in their last two games. She said her team is in good shape both physically and mentally, although still finding the need to work on a few areas like positioning and communication during games. “Naka-focus ‘yung players. Kung ano ‘yung nagagawa nila during practice, nagagawa sa games. Lahat nagwo-work,” she added.
In the loss, coach Hans Smit expressed disappointment in officiating as it prevented his squad from making critical advances into full time. Nevertheless, the veteran coach conceded that FEU were the stronger team and the result was deserved.
The Lady Tamaraws are now at par with the Lady Maroons on top with six points. UP will see action tomorrow against UST at 1PM in the same venue. As for La Salle, they stay in a three-way tie at third, but are in fifth due to inferior goal difference.