It took a game against last year’s finalists UST for FEU to barge into the win column of the UAAP Season 77 women’s football tournament. Holding the upper hand for most of the game, the Lady Tamaraws still needed a deciding goal in the second half to tally a victorious result on Saturday night at the Moro Lorenzo Football Field.
The Lady Tamaraws bossed around for much of the first half. Between the two teams, the UAAP Season 76 champions looked more dangerous with the ball. After an even 10 minutes of action, the ladies in green and gold recorded their first chance on goal. Roselle Lecera and Charmaine Fagaragan connected with clever one-two passing but the former lacked pace to outrace the alert Zipporah Luna.
Alina Araneta and Alesa Dolino then struck on target from far out, but neither went into the onion bag. Thomasian Jena Abuan also had a go from distance through a free kick that was collected comfortably by goalkeeper Joy Chavez. At the 21st minute, Hazel Lustan found space in the right flank after out-muscling the FEU defenders who stood in her way. Unfortunately for her, Dolino’s intervention prevented the Tigresses from threatening Chavez on goal.
FEU produced better chances and looked to have gotten more goals in the opening half. Sharmine Siaotong’s shot inside the box was saved by the outstretched Luna with 29 minutes gone. With nine minutes left in the half, the crafty forward would not be denied. Fresh off a counterattack, Siaotong found a one-on-one opportunity before sliding her shot away from the sprinting Luna’s reach and into the goal. A couple of minutes later, Dolino’s free kick was guided by a header courtesy of Kimberly Cupal to Araneta. The striker almost scored her team’s second goal only for Luna to recover in time to gather the ball before Araneta could tap it in.
Trailing at halftime, UST relentlessly went after the equalizer right from the restart. Their perseverance was rewarded with a 49th minute penalty as a result of a scramble inside the box. With a chance of drawing level again, Pearl Aguilar took the spot kick but her attempt flew over everyone, much to the dismay of the goal-starved UST squad. Nevertheless, the fruit of their labor came at the 53rd minute mark. Lustan floated in a cross from the right wing towards the face of the goal. Chavez initially had the ball under control, but Daryll Mendoza made the keeper pay a second after. The latter dropped the ball quite kindly into Chavez’s path who easily sent it straight into the goal.
The reigning champions were not deflated by the clumsy conceded goal for long. Araneta broke UST’s offside trap before calmly reclaiming the advantage for the Lady Tamaraws with a shot similar to Siaotong’s in the first half. FEU could have killed the game had Fagaragan been left unmarked by Aira Ilan. She prevented Fagaragan from scoring after Fagaragan picked up the rebound off a tackle made by Luna. Another chance fell to Fagaragan six minutes from time. Another through ball found her open but the shot lacked accuracy to roll into the goal which was manned by Ivy Lopez who had replaced Luna.
UST had a chance to equalize again in stoppage time but Mendoza’s shot from long range lacked the firepower to bother Chavez.
The result brings FEU level on points with DLSU and UST, sandwiching them in the middle of the standings. The three teams each have three points, with DLSU ahead on goal difference with + 1, FEU with 0, and UST in fourth place with a goal scored less than they have conceded.