Falling a goal down was not enough to dampen the spirits of the FEU Lady Tamaraws. They finished the game by finding the net once in each half to beat Ateneo 2-1, Wednesday afternoon at the Moro Lorenzo Football Field.
FEU captain Alesa Dolino and striker Ina Araneta netted twice to nullify Maan Cadayona’s early goal.
Ateneo took charge for most of the first half, routinely pummeling the FEU defense. The reigning champions stood firm but had their resistance broken at the 31st minute. Cadayona hammered a free kick straight into the net to give the Ateneans the advantage. She had the chance to double it with the same trick but her second try was wayward.
The lead didn’t last long as FEU had the opportunity to score from a set piece six minutes after. From about 30 yards, Dolino whipped her shot to the top right corner, beating the outstretched arms of Marie Caparros to level the score. The remaining minutes of the second half had the teams scrambling for possession, with neither unable to seriously threaten each other’s defenses.
Eight minutes gone by in the second half, FEU took advantage of a defensive error to pull ahead. Araneta collected the ball just outside the Ateneo penalty area before coolly scoring against the helpless Caparros. It was a catastrophic sequence that was almost succeeded by another when Araneta found herself in a one-on-one situation with Caparros anew at the 54th minute. The striker dribbled past the Ateneo goalkeeper but was denied by the post, keeping the score at 2-1.
The home side piled on the pressure, hoping to net an equalizer just before time expired. Camille Rodriguez came the closest when her headed shot forced a save from Joy Chavez at the 69th minute. Despite having enough of the ball to score a game-changing second goal, Ateneo ended the day empty-handed. As the final whistle sounded, they fell to their third loss in four games, all of which could have gone either way. On the other hand, FEU recorded their third consecutive win after losing in their opening game of the season.
FEU coach Let Dimzon was unable to hide disappointment with how her team began the game. Finishing has been a problem for the Tamaraws who had plenty of opportunities to shoot but had problems in making the shots that would have translated to goals. However, she was happy that the team kept their composure and weathered their way back for the win. “Every time na naiskoran kayo sa first half, hindi pa natatapos doon. Huwag kayo mag-give up. Laban lang,” she reminded her players.
Meanwhile, Ateneo coach Bob Manlulo pinpointed the lapse in concentration as the main factor in allowing FEU to steal the lead away from them. “They celebrated early on and didn’t go back to [playing] the system.” Also, he said that the lack of aggression from his players to increase the advantage was costly. “They relied on sustaining the game, hoping that FEU won’t score,” he elaborated.
The result brings FEU closer to league leaders UP. Both teams have nine points after four games but the Lady Maroons have superior goal difference. Ateneo, on the other hand, missed the chance to redeem third place after rivals La Salle leapfrogged them a few minutes before the start of the game. They are in fourth, tied with UST but own a better goal difference.