Unable to make the Victoria Junior College (VJC)'s girls football team last year, goalkeeper Hannah Lim became her school's unlikely hero yesterday as her saves clinched the Schools National A Division title after a nail-biting penalty shoot-out.
More than 100 minutes of play could not separate defending champions VJC and Meridian Junior College (MJC) as the game finished 1-1 after regulation time (40 minutes per half) and was goal-less in the two 10-minute halves of extra-time.
The tense affair, watched by close to 1,000 supporters from both schools, went to penalties and Hannah saved three efforts in VJC's 3-2 triumph at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
After each save, the 17-year-old fell to the ground and teared in celebration.
Later, she told The Straits Times: "When I saved the last ball, I definitely didn't know it was the last (penalty). When the referee blew the whistle, I realised that I did it. At the end of the day, I'm proud of what I did and how far I've come."
Hannah was more interested in badminton during her time at Tanjong Katong Girls' School and picked up football only last year.
The 1.7m-tall student added: "I wasn't intending to be a goalkeeper, my coach appointed me to be one. I think one of the reasons is my height.
"When I heard that nobody in my batch was a 'keeper, I felt that it was my calling and I wanted to do it."
VJC teacher-in-charge Tan Yew Hwee said Hannah's perseverance paid off. He said: "Last year, she narrowly missed the cut as we needed more outfield players.
"Hannah was determined to bring the trophy back and worked her socks off to help the team. I am proud of her."
After a goal-less first-half, the Victorians took the lead soon after the restart through forward Tiffany Low and appeared to have sealed their fifth straight title as the game headed into stoppage time.
But MJC's Zaiheeda Zaini, who was the competition's top scorer, grabbed her ninth goal of the campaign when her free kick flew past Hannah for the equaliser.
Despite the tough loss, MJC midfielder Rachel Ho was proud of her team-mates. The 18-year-old said: "My team really showed so much fight. We all really gave it a 100 per cent. Even before we stepped onto the field, I asked each girl what they want to achieve and they said they wanted to walk off the field with no regrets."
For triumphant VJC captain Winette Lim, this was a special moment.
"I'm very, very proud of them," the 18-year-old said.
"This year, it was a lot harder than previous years. But we still managed to do it together because we played together as a team."