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Six-Goal thriller kept Ateneo's playoffs chances alive in draw with UP

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By Earl Averilla

QUEZON CITY -- Ateneo did the minimum requirement of drawing with UP in the second round of their Katipunan Derby to keep their shot to the playoff within the realm of possibility.

The Lady Eagles started the game in Moro Lorenzo field off the blocks with an early goal in only the second minute courtesy of leading scorer, Camille Rodriguez, as she latched a shot past keeper, Nicole Adlawan.

The Fighting Maroons came up with their own forays towards their opponents' half but their supposed threats were easy for Marie Caparros to deal with.

The blue side of Katipunan continued the relentless pursuit of the win as they were rewarded in the eighth minute as they doubled the lead with Pam Diaz converting.

Ateneo followed this seemingly positive breakthrough in an authoritative manner as they kept to be on top of the proceedings, coming up with several skirmishes towards their rivals' territory but were not able to capitalize well enough to notch a third goal.

The Lady Eagles' massive cushion proved to be not enough as the combative players of the dethroned champs had other plans as Eloisa Malmis put the ball into the back of the net in the 29th minute from a free-kick taken by Sabrina Nierras to pull one back heading into the break

Come the second half, UP suddenly came alive as they were able to come up with a goal-bound shot in the 55th minute only for an alert Caparros to make the save.

Ateneo had a golden chance in the 63rd minute as their CR7 produced a lob from a breakaway with Adlawan well beaten only for Marianne Ruiz to deny and provide a lifeline for her team with a timely last gasp clearance. Excellent save by the defender!

A minute later, Anto Gonzales' wards eventually got a well earned equalizer as BG Santa Clara produced a short stab inside the penalty area that beat Caparros to make it 2-2 and set up the wildest 26 minutes of the Derby.

Ateneo then upped the ante as they pressurized their opponents hitting the crossbar once in the 80th minute.

Come the 83rd minute the home team almost got the winner as Teresa Bernardo's cross connected with Bea Velasco for the ball to fly over Adlawan to make it 3-2.

But UP will not be denied to the end as they found the equalizer with Blessie Perez burying the chance that Christina Delos Reyes created to end the well contested match in a 3-3 draw.

Coach JP Merida of Ateneo shared his happiness even though they did not get the win. "Happy na nakuha namin yung third, hopefully for the next game (La Salle vs UST) mag-favor pa rin samin kahit wala kami sa field." 

Coach Anto Gonzales of UP meanwhile was proud of his wards' ability to bounce back. "I have to give credit to the girls because even after the crushing defeat against La Salle they remained positive they returned to training and returned to work for the task at hand."  He shared.

With the result Ateneo still has the chance of reaching the playoff provided that La Salle will beat UST in the next match.

Follow him on Twitter: @earlaverilla