School sports

Perfect Eunoia win maiden A Division title

Euphoria for Eunoia Junior College as their girls' hockey team win the school's first A Division title in any sport. Their goalkeeper continued her clean-sheet feat while their captain made the only penalty conversion in the shoot-out.
Euphoria for Eunoia Junior College as their girls' hockey team win the school's first A Division title in any sport. Their goalkeeper continued her clean-sheet feat while their captain made the only penalty conversion in the shoot-out.PHOTO: EUNOIA JUNIOR COLLEGE

Perfection is what athletes seek but often fail to attain. A perfect movement, shot, race.

Perfection was what Deborah Lee attained on May 3.

The Eunoia Junior College (EJC) goalkeeper kept six clean sheets in the Schools National A Division girls' hockey tournament - but none was more critical than the one in the final against 16-time defending champions Victoria Junior College.

The match went to a penalty shoot-out after a goal-less draw in regulation time. EJC captain Valerie Koh converted her penalty, after the first four players of each team missed.

It was thus down to Deborah to deny VJC if EJC, which opened in 2017, were to lift their first A Division title in any sport. And she did.

She psyched herself up with an imaginary address to the opposing player, telling herself: "You're just another player with a ball, so I'm going to stop you because that's what goalies are for."

Deborah added: "I was freaking out before the shoot-out, but I saw all my teammates standing in a line holding hands and the fire burning inside of them and thought, 'No, I have to do this'.

"I knew they were supporting me, so I blocked out everything else and focused on the ball."

Valerie, 18, also paid tributes to her schoolmates present at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium, saying: "When I went to collect the ball for my penalty, I saw the sea of blue cheering for us and I felt strengthened by their presence."

EJC had lost to the same opponents in the final last year and Valerie noted: "Going in, we all had the same goal, but mindset is one thing and execution is another.

"There was extra motivation, we couldn't let ourselves lose twice. This year was about what our team could do and wanted to do and we wanted to go out there, play our best and have no regrets."

EJC's head of department of physical education and co-curricular activities Charles Cheak said: "We're ecstatic. It's not so much about the school's first title, but more about the hard work the girls put in. Seeing them put in the effort and get the result, that's priceless."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2019, with the headline 'Perfect Eunoia win maiden A Division title'. Print Edition | Subscribe