School sports

School sports: Victoria Junior College clinch dramatic A Division girls' football title

Victoria JC players mobbing goalkeeper Insyirah Maritz after their 4-3 win on penalties against Hwa Chong Institution in the A Division girls' football final yesterday.
Victoria JC players mobbing goalkeeper Insyirah Maritz after their 4-3 win on penalties against Hwa Chong Institution in the A Division girls' football final yesterday.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Goalkeeper Insyirah saves sudden-death penalty and secures sixth consecutive c'ship

She had just saved the decisive penalty against Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) during a dramatic shoot-out in the Schools National A Division girls' football final but for a moment, Victoria Junior College's (VJC) goalkeeper Insyirah Maritz's mind went blank.

Only after seeing her jubilant team-mates running towards her with outstretched arms did it dawn on the 17-year-old that she had helped secure the championship, the school's sixth in a row.

VJC won 4-3 on penalties after the match at the Jalan Besar Stadium had ended goalless.

"I took each ball as it came and it didn't occur to me that we had won because I was so focused," said the Year 1 student.

"I knew it was my turn to step up because my team-mates had been running their socks off. We were hoping to convert some of our chances (during regulation) but they didn't materialise so I knew it was up to me to win it for us and I'm relieved I saved the last ball."

First-time finalists HCI had proven to be stubborn opponents.

Defending in numbers, they kept VJC's attack at bay and limited the defending champions to only a few goal-scoring opportunities.

Both teams were unable to score in the regulation 80 minutes and the 20 minutes of extra time.

The tension continued in the shoot-out as both sides scored two of their attempts but missed the other three, sending the contest into sudden death.

At 2-2, each school scored their sixth attempt, but the next six penalty takers all missed.

In fact, HCI, shooting after VJC, had three chances to win but were unable to score past Insyirah.

In the 10th round of penalties, VJC's right winger Joie Teo finally scored with a low shot to give her team a 4-3 lead.

Cue Insyirah's final act of heroics as she parried HCI's Ning Xinran attempt while the euphoric VJC supporters cheered.

The 17-year-old Joie, who kissed the ball before her penalty, said: "My coach always says that you must love the ball first before you kick it. There was a lot of pressure but my team is very supportive, we empower each other to win.

"I feel really ecstatic, it was such an awesome feeling but today really gave all of us a heart attack."

Despite the heartbreaking loss, HCI captain Jamie Oon was proud of her team-mates.

She said: "We worked really really hard to get to where we are today. We made history by playing in our first final and I hope my juniors get to go on this journey next year."

The win completed the double for VJC, which won the boys' crown on Monday.

This was not a walk in the park though, stressed Insyirah.

"Every year people think VJC will surely be champions again, that we have it easy but no, we have our challenges and we train very hard to overcome them."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2018, with the headline 'VJC clinch dramatic title'. Print Edition | Subscribe