SINGAPORE - All hope had seemed lost as Methodist Girls' School's (Secondary) (MGS) netball team struggled to find their momentum at the Jurong West Sports Hall, having trailed for most of the first three quarters.
However, the defending champions never gave up hope. Spurred on by parents and schoolmates, the team mounted an unlikely comeback against Nanyang Girls' High School (NYGH), beating their opponents 35-25 in the National School Games (NSG) West Zone B girls' netball final on Thursday (May 19).
Fired up by the crowd's cheers and their coach's encouragement from the touchline, the MGS team flipped the script in the final quarter to retain their title despite trailing by as many as five goals midway into the second quarter.
MGS captain and wing attack Bernice Tan said: "The supporters' cheers really helped us because they pushed us on whenever we were tired on court."
The 16-year-old was referring to her schoolmates and a group of supporters made up of the players' parents who donned matching navy blue shirts that read "MGS Netball Mom/Dad".
Mother of MGS goal attack Kaela Si-hoe, Jan Yeo, said: "We wanted to encourage the girls and let them know that we are all behind them all the way, supporting them on this journey."
"The last two years have been tough on them, adapting from four on four and small group rotation, so just having them competing again is really wonderful for all of us parents. The win is the icing on the cake," the 43-year-old added.
Bernice also said that trailing for most of the game "was very nerve-wracking but our determination and perseverance on court really paid off and we pulled through".
"Our coach's motivation and encouragement throughout the entire game also helped us to push through no matter how hard it got," the Secondary 4 student said.
Having lost the West Zone C Division title to NYGH in 2019, Bernice was proud of her team for their hard work over the past two years. "It just showed us that our hard work paid off and I hope my juniors will continue working as hard," she said.
MGS coach Joanne Ong, who was sitting on the edge of the substitutes' bench throughout the match, jumped up in celebration as the umpire blew the final whistle. "It was an amazing performance especially by my defenders," said the 49-year-old. "They fought hard to get back the ball for my shooters so we could have more chances to put in shots. I am very blessed to have the girls working hard together with me."
MGS had found their rhythm only late into the third quarter, regaining the lead for the first time since the fifth minute. Starting the last quarter with a 22-20 lead, they built on their momentum and extended their cushion to an insurmountable 10 goals.
"For us, it's never over yet until we hear the final whistle," said Ong. "We always stay positive. After every quarter ends, we just focus on the next quarter."
Despite the loss, NYGH captain Ashlynn Teo, who is playing in her final NSG competition for the school, said: "We fought together as a team and although it wasn't the result we wanted, I'm really proud of my team.
"I'm glad that we made it this far and we made it through with teamwork and resilience."