After rigorous training sessions four to five times a week, with coach Mr Lawrence Lee and occasionally with Mr Tan Yew Hwee, the soccer girls had finally reached the finals and found themselves eyeing the championship trophy yet again. This came after a trying match against Hwa Chong Institution in the semi-finals where the outcome was decided through an intense round of penalties.
When asked for predictions, Jet Tay (18S53) said the girls would bring home the victory 3-0, while many others expected the team to win on penalties. It remains no mystery that Jet was indeed correct, with the football girls retaining their championship title for a 7th year after defeating first time finalists SAJC 3-0. The team was thankfully spared an agonising penalty shootout like the one that occurred the previous year, with the final match lasting 84 minutes, with 4 minutes of added time after the second half.
The Jalan Besar Stadium was filled up with Victorians, decked out in the bright Fired Up shirt, and other supporters alike. The new clappers were being distributed and it quickly became evident that everyone present could not wait to witness the thrilling clash between VJC and SAJC. After warmups and the singing of both schools’ anthems, the match was underway by 5.20 p.m.
Right from the very beginning, the girls began to display their strong offense and the team steadily moved into the attacking zone. At 5 minutes 45 seconds, Darwisyah (No. 12) put VJC on the scoreboard with the first goal. Loud roars and cheers erupted in the stadium, as Victorians grew all the more hopeful for a favourable outcome. Despite the strong start, the team did not get complacent and continued to put up a strong show by dominating in their attacking half of the field — attempting shot after shot at the SAJC defence. However, the SAJC girls held their ground. A solid cross at 18 minutes 50 seconds failed to mature into another goal and likewise another shot on target at 19 minutes 30 seconds went straight into the hands of SAJC’s goalkeeper. Yet, the determination of the Victoria girls did not fade, and only grew stronger and stronger with every minute elapsing.
SAJC’s first sign of attack was around the 27 minute mark but the defenders were poised and ready, quickly sending the ball back to their forwards. A corner kick from VJC at 29 minutes 30 seconds was delivered sublimely, once again, by Darwisyah (No. 12) but went in after a final touch from an opposing player, putting the score at 2-0. VJC took another shot at 42 minutes but it was unfortunately saved once again and with that, the first half ended with the score at 2-0 and VJC in the lead!
There were three more attempts by VJC to score at the 56 minute, 60 minute and 63 minute marks but the shots were either saved by the goalkeeper or deflected from the goalpost. Injured midfielder, Shahaf (No. 18) was substituted in with only about 2 more minutes of play time to go but shocked everyone by scoring a third goal during added time. It was a stunning goal, kicked from the corner of the field, making a perfect arc in the air before landing straight into the net. Even with a broken bone, she added the icing on the cake for VJC’s victory with the beautiful shot. In her words, “Every year, the pressure on us to retain the title increases and so does the competition as more teams try to strip our title away from us, but I’m glad we managed to retain it, despite the initial skepticism. I could not be more proud of my team of spartans.” As the whistle blew to mark the end of the match, this pride really shone through as the Victoria Soccer girls tightly hugged each other, imbued with an immense satisfaction at being able to clinch the prestigious title of ‘Champions’ once again.
Such a powerful victory did not come with an equally daunting amount of toil. Beyond the physical toll of having many training sessions per week, players also had to carry the weight of expectations placed upon them to win for another year. “Before the finals, all of us were undoubtedly anxious, because we knew the stakes for us were extremely high and we had to prove ourselves. Too much had been sacrificed for us to let this opportunity slip,” midfielder Sachika (No. 8) remarked. In light of this, she highlighted how she “drew strength from the determination of (her) team as well as the fact that it would be (her) last time playing for VJC and (she) knew that (she) had to walk off the pitch with no regrets”.
Their victory was not the only award the Soccer girls received that day. Right winger, Joie (No. 10), was awarded with the Most Promising Player award at the end of the season, a title that came as a surprise to the skillful player. “It felt really surreal because I didn’t expect myself to receive the award and I’m really grateful to Coach Lawrence and Mr Tan who have nurtured my growth in soccer. I owe the award to my family and teammates because I wouldn’t be where I am today without their love and support!” she gushed.
Captain of the team, Isabelle (No. 15), who plays the position of centre-back mentioned that “The most memorable moment was singing the school song after every training and after every match together as a team. It reminds us that we are not just playing for ourselves but for the school as well and that we were representing all the Victorians. It was also really encouraging as well, because when we sing the school song we know that we are part of a bigger community, VJC. It gives us a huge sense of belonging that really wants us to strive harder for the school.”
Two things the team always kept in mind was their coach’s sagely words before the match, “We do not own the field by talking, we own the field by the way we play,” as well as Mr Tan’s advice that “The team that is hungrier will win. Hard work will beat talent when talent fails to work and it’s not how good you are but how good you want to be.” The emphasis to the team has always been about the attitude and mindset because the right ones enable victories and successes and it is evident that the girls have really embodied what their teachers have imparted to them, as we were able to witness in the final match.
On behalf of the school, it should be safe to assume that the Soccer girls really proved their potential through their grit and tenacity and we could not be more proud of the team. The Victorian Press would also like to congratulate the girls Soccer team for fighting hard and bringing home the championship title. It was really a great honour to witness your success and passion for the sport, and Victorians are eager to see your fighting spirit shine through yet again in the next season!
Indrakshee Mukherjee, 18S53
Photos provided by:
VJ Photography Society