Amidst the roaring cheers of onlookers, one phrase rang out well above the rest. “VJ boleh!” cried Victorians fervently as they watched the riveting back and forth between our Victoria Hockey girls and Eunoia Junior College team. This was the Hockey girls’ team’s final match for the season, and it was evident that they were ready to put in their best foot and make Victoria proud. To round off a challenging, but rewarding season of matches, VJC Hockey girls have clinched first runner-up in their finals.
The crowd was buzzing with excitement even before the match had begun. Victorians were seen holding up banners and boards to show their unconditional support for their friends and classmates. Many of said boards were made for a specific player, decorated with their jersey number, doodles and even embarrassing old pictures of them! “She isn’t even playing,” said one Victorian with a laugh, “but we’re still going to cheer her on! She’s worked really hard with the team to get here, so we wanted to show her our appreciation.” When the team finally came into view, the school roared with anticipation and exhilaration at seeing their schoolmates on the court.
Excited cheers from Victorians.
Away from the excited and light-hearted atmosphere in the audience, the Hockey girls were laser-focused and calm on the court. They were huddled together in a circle after their pre-game briefing, looking at each other with mutual faith, trust, and a determination to succeed. “During our pre-game briefing we did discuss our game strategy but more so our mental strength. We were told to calm our nerves, forget who we were going against and play freely. Our captains, Gabrielle and Aces, kept giving us advice and assuring us over and over again. We believed in ourselves and in the team. Even if I felt nervous, I knew I had an entire team behind me and supporting me,” remarked Shaalini, a J1 from Hockey. When the whistle finally blew and the team dispersed, you could tell from their facial expressions that they were prepared for any outcome. Like valiant warriors with neon-colored hockey sticks for weapons, they were ready to fight a good fight.
Ready to fight on, together.
The match started off with both sides intensely butting heads. For every move from one team, there was an equally skillful reaction from the other — an equilibrium that nonetheless set both sides on edge every time a team attempted to score. One’s eyes were never focused on one part of the court for too long either, as the ball shot across the court from one side to another like a precarious game of pinball. All throughout the intense back-and-forth, Victorians cheered their hearts out for every advancement and in spite of every setback.
The phrase ‘sitting on the edge of their seats’, though a cliche, was true for the audience spectating the match. Both schools were cheering as hard as they could, and the Hockey girls were fighting even harder to bring their team to victory. It was for this reason that every passing second seemed to be filled with more and more anticipation for the outcome. As both sides were equally strong and had determinedly adept players, the score was still 0 – 0 even as time was running out, which meant that the fate of the girls were to be decided in the penalty shootouts.
An exhilarating back-and-forth.
It was only in the final few minutes that the Eunoia Hockey girls team took the final shot that would determine the results of the match. As the ball hit the net, the Victorian Hockey girls were clearly more than a little dispirited, but hope had not been washed away completely. Victorians still continued to spur the team on, with shouts of “VJ Boleh!” and interspersed cheers coming together in waves to tell the team to keep fighting on. With this motivation, the team pressed on against the tide until the very end.
As both sides had fought a noble and relentless battle, VJ lost narrowly to EJ with a score of 0-1, ending a 16 year long winning streak for VJC. The loss hit the team hard, but it was especially devastating for the J2s as this was their last official match. To end off their hockey journey with a lost hit them hard but despite the disappointment, every cloud has a silver lining. “It definitely hurt because we had a lot of pride on the line for the competition. But what helped was seeing my classmates rush down to comfort me, to tell me I did well. Looking up at everyone who came to support us, I feel like my juniors will work hard to make them proud for the next season,” reflected a J2 member who wished to remain anonymous. No matter the result, everyone had sung the Victorian anthem with such pride and emotion. The team had kept their promise to the school to ‘play the sportsman’s game’, and singing those words together filled everyone present with a sense of unity: the true Victorian spirit.
The loss in this battle does not mark the defeat in the war for the Hockey girls team. Instead, it has imbued in the team a renewed conviction to work harder and crush their rivals in the next season. As the future of the CCA, the J1s are especially determined to secure the championship title, to start their own legacy and to do VJ proud. “We feel a lot more driven because we’ve seen how hard the seniors have worked for the season and they really pushed past their limits to do their best. I think that all of us just really want to make them proud and gain the championship title back again! To be honest, we are quite nervous since we don’t have many experienced players but what we have is passion and watching the seniors give it nothing less than their all on pitch each game has really inspired us!” remarked Fathinah, a J1 from Hockey.
In the face of adversity, the team carries on.
No matter the result, VJC would like to congratulate the hockey girls team for emerging as runners up in this season. The team’s determination, tenacity and skill in coming all the way to the finals is truly admirable and awe-inspiring for the rest of the sports in VJ. In just the same way that Victorians stood together to sing the school song at the end of the match, the school will come together in unity to support the team in the lead-up to the next season. All the best to the Hockey girls team, whom we hope to see usher in a new era of victory in next year’s season!
Alisha Ganesh, 19A11
Anika Shormill Mamun, 19S40
Photos provided by:
VJ Photography Society