SINGAPORE - The C Division boys' hockey gold medal was on the line and he had missed his earlier two attempts in the penalty shoot-out in the final.
Despite the mounting tension at Sengkang Hockey Stadium on Monday (Aug 19), with 900 spectators watching expectantly in hushed silence, Victoria School's Ray Chow was unfazed as he prepared to take the deciding penalty, the 24th one in the penalty shoot-out after the match ended 1-1 in regulation time .
Slowly dribbling the ball from the 23-metre line, he dummied to the right before shooting left, reacting quickly to slot home the rebound for a 5-4 shoot-out win and Victoria's third consecutive title after Raffles Institution goalkeeper Ng Shu Yang saved his initial shot.
Said Ray, who was roaring in celebration on both knees before his teammates piled on him at the end of the match: "I had missed my two earlier attempts but Coach Nordin (Manaff) told me to take the deciding penalty.
"I had to calm down and try a different tactic. The whole pitch was so silent and it was nerve-wracking but I'm glad I managed to redeem myself."
Both sides started the match playing aggressive attacking hockey, which earned them penalty corners that came to nought.
Ray made his mark at the end of the third quarter after Victoria earned a crucial penalty corner. The 14-year-old captain swept the ball towards the right post for Irfan Alim to deflect in to make it 1-0.
Raffles's Joshua Poh replied in the fifth minute of the final quarter as he drove through Victoria's defence to fire a reverse shot past goalkeeper Elijah Quek to bring the tie to penalties.
Ray added: "It is very hard to take all this in. Everything happened so quickly and it felt so surreal. I am very proud of my team."
Victoria coach Nordin said: "This is the longest penalty shoot-out I have seen since I've been a coach at Crescent Girls' School in 1995. Both goalkeeper were outstanding and the long years of rivalry between Raffles and Victoria made both teams push to perform their very best."
Raffles goalkeeper Shu Yang was gutted about their loss, despite making five consecutive saves in the shoot-out.
"It was such a pity. I felt the pressure when we struggled to score and I just had to keep saving every ball," the 14-year-old said.
"I got a touch on the ball (in the deciding penalty) but I just wasn't fast enough to clear it with my stick."
The C Division girls' final saw Crescent Girls' edge out CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School 1-0 yesterday 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 on the pitch in the girls' final.
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 know everyone else on the pitch were in the same situation.
"I told myself to release the ball earlier in the last quarter and I'm very proud that she scored."