School Sports: Era of dominance continues for RI

ACS(I) goalkeeper Yin Yihui trying to parry a shot during yesterday's Schools National A Division girls' water polo final. Despite her strong performance, RI still won 15-1.
ACS(I) goalkeeper Yin Yihui trying to parry a shot during yesterday's Schools National A Division girls' water polo final. Despite her strong performance, RI still won 15-1.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

There were few signs to suggest an upset in the Schools National A Division girls' water polo final at the Evans Road swimming complex yesterday.

Defending champions Raffles Institution (RI), with 10 consecutive titles to their credit, were overwhelming favourites against first-time finalists Anglo-Chinese School (Independent).

Despite RI's 15-1 victory, one of the key standouts for ACS(I) was the stellar performance by goalkeeper Yin Yihui, who parried roughly half the shots on goal.

Her skills won praise from RI coach Lim Yao Xiang, who said: "I told the girls that if you are one on one with the keeper, your conversion rate should be at least 80 per cent. But that wasn't the case today as their goalkeeper pulled off some saves we haven't even seen before."

RI began with a high tempo as they created space and executed long passes to perfection. But for all their strategic moves and shooting prowess, they were repeatedly denied by the 18-year-old.

Yihui said: "It was very intimidating when I saw the attackers coming at me with the ball .

"Sometimes I had to travel from one end of the post to another but I just held on to the hope that I would block their shots."

Her performance resonated with the crowd as they roared after each of her saves - rising from their seats and pumping their fists.

The audience reaction was not lost on Yihui. "During the game, I knew that they (the supporters) really meant every single cheer, and it motivated me to carry on."

RI led 7-1 at half-time, but their approach changed after the interval, on the advice of their coach. According to vice-captain Yong Wen Min, "Our coach told us to keep our heads in the game and not chase the scoreline. He just told us to play our best and the goals would come."

They attacked more clinically in the second half, adding eight more goals to emphasise their domination of the sport in the last decade.

Lim stressed that the winning score by itself was not as important as the team's journey. "Sometimes we just have to know that it's just important to play your best - the results will come later."

Nothing could stop the Raffles girls from celebrating once again as they stayed in the water to mark their continued dominance while ACS (I) returned to the reality of plotting their next campaign.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2017, with the headline 'Era of dominance continues as RI claim easy win'. Print Edition | Subscribe