“It was a good result — they really wanted it, they showed it on the pitch, and they got it!” —Mr Seet Kok Wah
It was that time of the season, the most anticipated match, the one that decided the champs for this season. Just this Wednesday, VJ’s girls hockey team played against ACJC, as the defending champs, while VJ’s boys hockey team played against RI(JC) who were the defending champs from the previous season. Even before the matches had started, it started raining at Sengkang Stadium. However this did not dampen the spirits of those at the match venue and they still continued cheering as loud as they could so as to give support to those playing. (Of course, there were those who went to McDonald’s… but thankfully, they were mostly back by kickoff.)
The first match was between our hockey girls and ACJC’s hockey girls. We were the defending champions, and had been for 13 years, so we entered the stadium feeling quite good about our track record. Nevertheless, it would be too soon to say anything except to cheer!
The game started out very smoothly, beginning with a surprise for the girls. Knowing that their unofficial team anthem was Mariah Carey’s When You Believe, Mr Seet and the SC arranged for all the supporters to sing the song together as the girls walked onto the field — a really touching moment. It was truly one of those times when you realise that this is what makes VJC special — the bond and the culture of support.
With the support from all the Victorians, ready to cheer their hearts out whenever our girls scored a goal, it was no surprise when, just 2 minutes after the kickoff, one of our players managed to score a beautiful goal that got the whole stadium on their feet. Shortly after, at the sixth minute, the ball went sailing into the net once more, putting us firmly ahead. This was certainly a good start to the match for us, and the pressure was certainly on. Unfortunately, though, it seemed that the rest of the half was rather… uneventful. The scoreline of 2–0 did not change, all the way to half-time.
“At first we looked like we started off strong, and were gonna build on it,” said Mr Guru, our vice-principal. “But now ACJC has settled in, and they’ve got quite an even game.” Mr Tan Yew Hwee concurred, saying that “if we can just score a few more times we’ll be settled.”
Simply put, their wishes were granted. In the second half, our hockey girls did not slow down at all and continued entering goals after goals. “Put it in! Put it in!” the crowd chanted, and put it in they did! Three goals came in quick succession right after kickoff (indeed leaving some of us with a sense of déjà vu), raising the spirit in Sengkang tremendously. Galvanised, the 33rd Red Shirts soon got the crowd up on their feet with nearly every cheer in the book. This certainly had an effect on 16A11, who said that they were “ecstatic and excited” and feeling really proud of VJ!
Towards the end of the half, we maintained an attacking game and while some of the shots towards the end were not on target, it hardly mattered — we had a five-goal lead! The final whistle blew and we ultimately managed to finish off on a score of 5–0.
Thus the season concluded, crowning our VJC hockey girls as the champions once again! This was now the 14th year running that we had been crowned champions — something to really be proud of!
The second match was similarly very anticipated. Riding on the hype of being crowned champs for the girls’ team, Victorians cheered even more loudly for the boys’ team before the match, hoping that the outcome for this match would be same as the previous one. The last time the boys had won had been in 2013, so we were hoping that we could repeat history from that year! However, it was definitely not an easy game, as not only were RI (JC) the defending champions, they had also sent a formidable match support team (which was, of course, still no match for us, pun intended.) During the first half of the game, both teams from VJ and RI played outstandingly, blocking goals and charging ahead in an attempt to score. As the match drew on, the atmosphere became rather more muted compared to the girls’ match. “I’m not sure if it’s because the match is tougher, or is it just because we’re tired from cheering for the girls!” says Kwek Zhan Hao (15S49).
Regretfully, the team from RI managed to score a goal before the whistle was blown, leaving the match with a score of 0–1 at halftime. Needless to say, our supporters were caught quite off-guard, and needed some time to take it in. Nobody dared to say anything.
Nevertheless, it appeared that our fears were quite unfounded. As the game proceeded into the second half, our boys managed to score a goal, equalising to make the score 1–1. Victorians erupted into cheers upon the sight of our boys scoring. Ironically, amidst all the cheering, the opposing team took an opportunity and scored another goal, bringing the score up to 1–2. The tension was palpable, as the whole stadium held their breath. This was proving to be a much, much harder fight than the girls’ match. As the time for the final whistle to be blown neared, those in the audience wondered if the game would end in a draw.
As if on cue, Thomas Teo, who had scored the equaliser earlier, went for the ball and scored at the 51st minute! 2–2 was now a reality. In the midst of all our shouting, the referee announced a penalty. As Thomas stepped forward, the entire audience quietened and all eyes seemed to be focused on that one player. This was our chance; it was now or never. Lifting his stick, he swung down hard, shooting the ball into the net of the Raffles’ goal. The second goal within a minute. A hat-trick.
Upon this sight, Victorians burst into cheers. We had done it. We were now ahead for the first time in the match. Loud cheers filled the VJ side of the stadium again. Of course, given how volatile the match was, we dared not celebrate just yet. Our lead was thin, but it was a lead. And we held on to it all the way to the end.
The final whistle blew, and for the second time that day, we were champions. It had been a hard-fought game, against tough opponents, but we won. As Mr Seet would later declare, it was “the epitome of a fight-back”, from 1–2 down to 3–2 up within a minute, and we refused to back down or to give up, instead pushing harder and giving it our best shot. This was echoed by students from 15S47 and 16S30 whom we spoke to, all describing it as “the mother of all comebacks”! The trophy was well-deserved, and the hockey boys and girls had all brought glory to Mother Victoria. All the effort that they had put in had certainly paid off.
Well done to both our hockey boys’ and girls’ teams, allowing VJ to be crowned double champs for this hockey season! We’re very proud of you!
Ryan Ch’ng (16S47)
Tian Jingjie (16S37)
Natalie Liew (16A13)
(Photo credits: Photosoc)