The University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigresses defeated the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws, 3-2, at the McKinley Hill Stadium in Taguig for the first win in this UAAP Season 78 Women’s Football Tournament.
The match itself was a great advertisement for Women’s Football in the Philippines as the Growling Tigresses and Lady Tamaraws put on a game fused with talent and tactics. In the end, though, the Growling Tigresses held on for that important first win. Goals from Cabalan (56′) and a Lemoran double (61′ &77′) sealed the win for the Lady Tigresses, while FEU pulled two back courtesy of Kim Cupal (47′) and Jovelle Sudaria (68′).
The first half was all UST. The Growling Tigresses had most of the possession and created more chances from open play. It was only great defending from the Lady Tamaraws that prevented them from that valuable first goal.
It was FEU, though, who started the game brighter. The Lady Tamaraws won a direct free kick outside the UST box and Alesa Dolino stepped up to take it. Dolino had a good attempt on goal, but her free kick failed to test UST goalkeeper Ivy Lopez and landed on the overhead net.
The Growling Tigresses woke up from their slumber afterwards and played good attacking football. They dominated the pitch, attacking wisely, and implemented a high defensive line that prevented FEU from creating chances in open play. Their two strikers, Hazel Lustan and rookie Lemoran, were instrumental in creating chances. They didn’t only try to shoot on goal but create chances for their wingers as well.
UST midfielder Cabalan signaled the Growling Tigresses’ attacking intent when she ran through midfield to penetrate the FEU defense, but her shot ended up wide. Lustan very much dominated the right side of the pitch and her attempt was easily saved by Lady Tamaraws goalkeeper Kim Parina. Moments later, the Growling Tigresses would have scored from a corner if it weren’t for a goal line clearance from Lady Tamaraws defender Portia Acibar.
Wastefulness became the theme for the Lady Tigresses in the first half. Lemoran had an attempt inside the FEU box but she shot wide under pressure. Another chance went begging after Acibar failed to control the ball properly and Lustan took advantage. Lustan ran through the FEU box and her layoff to Cabalan led to a shot which sailed outside the box. Cabalan, again, had another golden opportunity to score but her shot bounced back from the low post.
On the other hand, FEU struggled to keep possession of the ball. The Lady Tamaraws were restricted to a few attempts in the first half. Sudaria had a free kick saved by Lopez. Jean Kadil and Cupal had shots on goal but the former directed hers wide, while the latter’s was saved by Parina. The best chance of FEU in the first half came from Sharmaine Siaotong who hit the UST crossbar.
Aside from those chances, it was all defense for the Lady Tamaraws. Acibar was instrumental again for FEU when her tackle denied Lemoran from shooting on goal. Cabalan repaid Lustan’s layoff earlier in the game when the former passed to the latter, whose shot was saved by Parina. A few seconds later, Parina was alert to stop Lemoran from scoring. The scores were nil-nil at the break with UST unlucky and FEU grateful.
If UST’s chances were the story in the first half, then the second half would be all about football’s end product, goals.
Contrary to the run of play, though, it was FEU who broke the deadlock early in the second half. A cross played into the UST box was headed into goal by Cupal at the 47th minute. Cupal just needed to head the ball around UST goalkeeper Lopez as the latter was just too close to her to prevent the goal.
In contrast to the UST fixture against Ateneo, the Growling Tigresses did not collapse after they conceded the goal. Just nine minutes after, Cabalan was rewarded for her attacking endeavors when her late run into the box provided her the opportunity to score, and score she did. Cabalan had a shot inside the FEU box which looped above Parina. At the 56th minute, it was UST 1-1 FEU.
Five minutes later, Lemoran added to FEU’s woes. She won a corner after she was through on goal and then slotted the ball into the net moments later. It proved to be a huge moment in the match, and perhaps UST’s season, as the Lady Tigresses proved that they had the mental fortitude to compete. That 61st minute goal could prove to be a turning point in UST’s Season 78 campaign.
But then the Lady Tamaraws were not to be discounted. Just like their first goal, their second was a heist against UST. Sudaria successfully penetrated the UST box and unleashed a powerful shot which hit the top corner at the 68th minute. It was a goal which came from nowhere and should have been the point saver for FEU.
Once again the Growling Tigresses were on their way to a third game without a win in Season 78. This time, though, they kept pushing for a third goal. And find it they did. Lemoran successfully eluded two FEU defenders inside the box and directed the ball home at the 77th minute. UST’s players, coaches, and fans were ecstatic as they thought they’d only go home with a point for all their efforts.
In the end, the Growling Tigresses deservedly went home with all three points, while the Lady Tamaraws were left to rue what could have been.
The result was UST’s first win in three games, while FEU had to make do with their second loss in as many games.
UST coach Prescila Rubio was understandably happy that her side won a tough game. “Siguro ginigising kami kasi sobrang down na yung feeling dahil sunod-sunod na yung talo namin. Ngayon sana yung panalo na ito tuloy-tuloy na.”
Rubio added, “Dahil nga dun sa mga nangyayaring pagkatalo namin dalawang beses, sinabi ko sa mga bata na i-insist ko yung dinesign namin na play which is yung teamplay, passing game which is lahat kailangan magkaroon ng trust kahit sino nasa loob.” She then pointed out,“Yung team effort. Sobrang nakikita mo effort ng lahat from defense, midfield, forward and yung trust ng isa’t-isa.”
Rubio then concluded that she was proud to see her players appreciate each others’ efforts regardless of their seniority. “Dun ako mas natuwa kasi lumabas ang galing ng buong team.”
The next games of both teams will be on Sunday (March 6, 2016) at the McKinley Hill Stadium. UST shall face De La Salle University in the 1:00PM game, while FEU will have a Season 77 Finals rematch against the University of the Philippines at 7:00PM.