School Sports: Hwa Chong pip Raffles Institution on penalties to retain A Div water polo title

Hwa Chong Institution's Ryan Yap taking a penalty during a shoot-out against Raffles Institution. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Hwa Chong Institution's (HCI) goalkeeper and captain Jarrel Ang was an unused substitute when he watched his teammates lift the National School Games (NSG) B Division boys' water polo title in 2019 as they beat Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) (ACS(I)) 5-3.

But on Monday (April 18), the 18-year-old rose to the occasion as his penalty-saving heroics proved the difference in the tantalising contest. Ang pulled off two consecutives saves to help his team retain the boys' A Division title by edging out arch-rivals Raffles Institution (RI) 4-2 in a shootout at Our Tampines Hub, after the match had ended 8-8 in regular time.

"I was really nervous because I knew it had all come down to this final moment but I managed to calm myself down and help my team lift the trophy," Jarrel said.

Competing in his final NSG, Jarrel described the win as "a moment we will remember for the rest of our lives".

The highly competitive and physical clash was a rematch of the previous final in 2019 that ended 8-7 in HCI's favour. While HCI had despatched RI 13-5 in a group game last Monday (April 11), the finale was a much tighter affair.

Taking the game to their rivals, RI came out firing all cylinders and raced to a 4-2 lead at half-time.

HCI were not about to surrender their title, though. Launching a comeback in an enthralling second half, they managed to erase the deficit with just a minute left in regular time. Isaac Lee made it 8-8 through a penalty to take the game to a shoot-out, where Jarrel performed his heroics.

HCI principal Pang Choon How expressed his appreciation of both teams' endeavour.

He said: "It was a really hard-fought match. Both teams gave their very best. I am just very proud of the athletes. They worked very hard throughout the tournament. I know it's not easy at all for them to come this far."

Pang also thanked the teachers and parents who supported the players.

"Unfortunately, their parents and friends cannot be here to support them. Nonetheless, is something that the players will cherish very much."

Hwa Chong Institution principal Pang Choon How passing the trophy to captain Jarrel Ang. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

For RI captain Max Teo, the narrow loss felt bittersweet.

"We didn't expect the game to be so close because we lost our previous game with them 13-5. Even though we lost, it was still a very good game played by us," the 18-year-old said.

Fighting back his emotions, he added: "I am very proud of how the team performed and this is one of the best games we have played.

"My heart is very full right now. To me, we are champions especially knowing how much we had overcome to get to where we are today. I really couldn't be prouder of my team."

In the third-place play-off, ACS(I) beat St Andrew's Junior College 15-7.

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