School sports

School sports: Last-gasp goals seal hockey titles for RI and VJC

Klara Chong (third from left) embraces a team-mate in jubilation after scoring the golden goal to help Victoria Junior College claim their 15th straight A Division girls' hockey championship. Below: Raffles Institution's match winner Ramalingam Gouth
Klara Chong (third from left) embraces a team-mate in jubilation after scoring the golden goal to help Victoria Junior College claim their 15th straight A Division girls' hockey championship. ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE
Klara Chong (third from left) embraces a team-mate in jubilation after scoring the golden goal to help Victoria Junior College claim their 15th straight A Division girls' hockey championship. Below: Raffles Institution's match winner Ramalingam Gouth
Raffles Institution's match winner Ramalingam Gouthaman (in green) battles Ethan Chan of Victoria Junior College (No. 3). RI averted a repeat of last year's final, downing VJC 1-0.ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE

It took a golden goal for Victoria Junior College (VJC) to seal the gold medal in the Schools National A Division girls' hockey final yesterday.

Klara Chong's extra-time goal proved the difference against a gutsy Millennia Institute, making their first appearance in the final.

Millennia had stunned Raffles Institution (RI) 3-2 via a penalty shoot-out in the semi-finals and held their own in the final until Klara's goal ended the match.

After VJC landed their 15th straight title courtesy of their 1-0 win, Klara said: "I felt very happy, very relieved and thankful that I took the shot, but it's not just me. Everybody played their part (in the goal)."

Millennia goalkeeper Krithaisha Vijayakumar, 20, said: "We never ever expected to go to the semis or final and we're so glad we came here finally... I'm really proud of the team."

VJC forward Tammy Toh, 17, paid tribute to Millennia, saying: "They didn't give up, no matter what, even if on paper they were not favoured to win. They still fought on and gave us a really good fight. I really admire them."

The boys' final was also decided by a last-minute goal, but this time the Victorians were denied victory.

The spotlight fell instead on RI, who claimed their fourth win in six years. After a goal-less first half, Rafflesian Ramalingam Gouthaman's drive into the shooting circle and subsequent strike in the final moments of regulation time put his side 1-0 up before the final whistle.

Said the winger: "This goal is nothing compared to the goals I scored in the group stages.In the group stages, a lot of goals were near-post (finishes). I never really scored a 'proper' goal.

"I didn't even know it was the last few minutes. I thought that if I made a mistake, my team-mates could still make it up for me."

RI, who last won the boys' title in 2015, lost 2-3 to defending champions VJC in last year's final.

RI captain Abdurrahim Hanif, a Year 2 midfielder who also featured in last year's final, said: "Our aim for this season was to not repeat what happened last year.

"It's what made us work hard, harder than ever... We were given the option of having less training every week, since the Year 1 students hadn't joined us yet. But we stuck to the normal (training) schedule and even increased our physical training."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2017, with the headline 'Last-gasp goals seal hockey titles for RI and VJC'. Print Edition | Subscribe