The last time Shannon Arthur played, the De La Salle University Lady Archers lost 1-2 against the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons in the Season 78 Finals.
Saturday afternoon though, Arthur scored twice as she and the rest of the Lady Archers prevailed 3-1 against the Lady Maroons to kickstart their UAAP Season 80 Women’s Football Tournament campaign with a victory.
“That’s not my team,” commented La Salle coach Hans-Peter Smit at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila. “We always start like that. I mean they’re too gigil especially in the first half. They all missed passes. They were not playing the play. They were rushing the attack. Hopefully next game they’ll get into the groove already.”
The battle between the tournament’s last two champions turned out to be a lively one right from kickoff. Punch after punch was traded by both squads as the Lady Maroons and Lady Archers sought that early lead.
It was UP that broke the deadlock after 23 minutes of play. A cross from State U left-winger Red Sajonia found its way into the La Salle goal as the ball was simply way out of Lady Archers goalie Natasha Lacson’s reach.
Unfortunately for the Lady Maroons, their lead evaporated soon afterwards. La Salle raised its aggression after coming from a goal down and the Lady Archers got their reward at the 34th minute when substitute striker Chelo Hodges turned in Kyla Inquig’s cross.
Hodges, who was brought into the game to replace the injured Mary Duran, nearly gave La Salle the lead just before the period ended as she was only denied by the crossbar. It finished 1-1 at the break and both schools were good value for their goals.
Once the game resumed, La Salle shifted gears in search for the win. Right-winger Irish Navaja tested UP goalie Vanessa Estrada with a tame effort. Estrada and the rest of the UP defense were constantly attacked and a goal simply looked inevitable for La Salle.
The Lady Archers found the goal they were lloking for at the 59th minute. From a freekick way outside the box, forward-turned-defender Shannon Arthur unleashed a strike that proved too high for Estrada to give La Salle the lead.
The game became more open after Arthur’s goal. Lady Maroons midfielder Eloisa Fagsao and substitute striker Christina De Los Reyes had their chances to score but Lacson stood firm.
La Salle was on its way to its 10th consecutive UAAP victory which started last season and the three points were secured at the 90th minute when Arthur’s long-range screamer made it a 3-1 victory for the Lady Archers.
“These were my instructions. Nobody can kick like (Arthur). I said ‘you have the chance, take it.’ I just said ‘Don’t take the straight shot. Just lob it over. Just put it inside. Anytime it bounces off the keeper, bar or post; we still have other players (for the rebound)’,” explained Smit.
The two schools shall next play University of Santo Tomas at Rizal Memorial. La Salle will take on UST first on February 14, 9:00 AM while State U shall go up against the Espana school on February 17, 3:00 PM.