School sports

Ray roars in marathon final

Victoria School's hockey players celebrate after winning a marathon penalty shoot-out against Raffles Institution to claim the Schools National C Division boys' hockey gold. ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA
Victoria School's hockey players celebrate after winning a marathon penalty shoot-out against Raffles Institution to claim the Schools National C Division boys' hockey gold.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

Penalty shoot-out between VS and RI decided only on 24th attempt; VS win 5-4

The C Division boys' hockey gold medal was on the line and Victoria School captain Ray Chow was handed the responsibility of taking the 24th and deciding penalty despite missing two attempts in the marathon shoot-out.

Amid the mounting tension at Sengkang Hockey Stadium yesterday, with 900 spectators watching expectantly in hushed silence, the 14-year-old was unfazed.

Slowly dribbling the ball from the 23m line, he dummied to the right before shooting left, then reacting quickly to slot home the rebound to clinch a 5-4 win and Victoria's third straight title after Raffles Institution goalkeeper Ng Shu Yang saved his initial shot.

Ray, who was roaring in celebration on both knees before his teammates piled on him, said: "I had to calm down and try a different tactic. The whole pitch was so silent and it was nerve-racking but I'm glad I managed to redeem myself."

Both sides started aggressively with attacking hockey, earning them penalty corners that came to nought in the 1-1 draw.

Ray made his mark at the end of the third quarter via a penalty corner, sweeping the ball towards the right post for Irfan Alim to deflect home for the opener.

Raffles' Joshua Poh replied in the fifth minute of the final quarter as he drove through the defence to fire a reverse shot past goalkeeper Elijah Quek to take it to penalties.

RAW TENSION

The whole pitch was so silent and it was nerve-racking but I'm glad I managed to redeem myself.

RAY CHOW, Victoria School captain, on taking the deciding penalty.

Ray added: "Everything happened so quickly and it felt so surreal. I am very proud of my team."

Raffles goalkeeper Shu Yang was gutted about their loss, despite making five consecutive saves in the penalty shoot-out.

Said the 14-year-old: "It was such a pity. I felt the pressure when we struggled to score and I just had to keep saving every ball.

"I got a touch on the ball (in the last penalty) but I just wasn't fast enough to clear it with my stick."

The C girls' final saw Crescent Girls' School edge out CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School 1-0 to win their first title since 2017.

Despite being the shortest player on the pitch at 1.46m, Mak Cher Tint made the biggest contribution for her team.

The Crescent forward spent the majority of the match chasing after long balls and was duly rewarded six minutes from time, when she trapped a long ball before squaring it for Sowndharya Karthikeyan to score the winner.

Cher Tint, 13, said: "I was getting really tired in the third quarter but I knew everyone else on the pitch was in the same situation.

"I told myself to release the ball earlier in the last quarter and I'm very proud that she scored."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2019, with the headline 'Ray roars in marathon final'. Print Edition | Subscribe