It may have been the toughest match the VJC Soccer Girls (VJCSG) have had to play this entire season. Facing strong competition with Meridian Junior College’s team, as well as having a few team members down due to injuries, VJCSG’s chances of defending their title were uncertain, and the odds did not seem to be in their favour.
Accoutred in their trademark yellow Adidas uniform, our VJC girls’ soccer team started off at the sidelines with familiar warm up routines. 20 minutes before the start of the match, their coaches brought them to the field for dribble practices and tactic revisions in preparation for the final showdown of the season.
Meanwhile, an encouraging number of Fired-Up Victorians flooded the upper and lower galleries of the stadium, ready to cheer the team on for their resilience and dedication. Our compelling and energetic Redshirts facilitated the students’ movement into the stadium and ensured each Victorian had VJC’s customized inflatable clappers for the match support.
At last, before the much-awaited match began, the Victorian team huddled up to recentre their focus on the game, and relook at their game plans before cheering and breaking out onto the field.
With this, VJC stood prepared for what the match had in store for them — an incredible display of skilful talent and entertainment.
The first half was full of splendid headshots, close strikes and timely saves by both goalkeepers. Neither side seemed to be able to make any major headway against the other. VJC’s soccer team beefed up its defense when MJC brought the ball closer to the goalposts with man-to-man marking and swift dribbles across the field. Likewise, MJC maintained a strong opposition and intercepted the strikes from the home team. With a tight deadlock on both sides, the first half ended with a 0-0, leaving the crowd excited and anxious for the play ahead.
The second half of the match had Victorians hold their breath in anticipation as Tiffany (No.17) swiftly weaved through the opponent’s defenders one by one, dribbling the ball nimbly past the strong opponent defenders, before finally attempting a low shot towards the goalpost. The MJC goalkeeper set her eyes on the ball, ready to catch the ball as it came towards her. However, Tiffany’s kick proved too much for the opponent’s goalkeeper to handle, as the ball flew past the goalkeeper and… she scored! Euphoric Victorians jumped to their feet in the stands, cheering wildly. The team gathered together, hugging one another in joy as the opponents hung their head low and walked back to their respective positions on the field.
The first goal from VJC translated into a more aggressive attack from MJC as they showed every spectator that they badly wanted the goal to even out the score. As time slowly inched towards the end of the second half, MJC earned a free kick due to a foul on our team’s part. This then turned into a goal on their side resulting in astounding cheers from MJC’s students at the stands. Unfortunately, this also meant a tied score for VJ to beat before the end of the second half.
Soon, the second half of the match had ended. The score was now 1-1. The atmosphere was tense as we had lost our lead and the match could now go either way.
The first 10 minutes of extra-time were nerve-wracking as the MJC team constantly had control of the ball. Expanding their territory over the field, all VJC players held their guards up and rallied their power together against the opponent’s attacks. As the forward of MJC was closing up the distance between her and the goalpost, a tackle from VJC’s defenders made the opponent lose control of the ball, and soon, our soccer girls were back on track, drawing the ball further and further away from their defense.
After a 5 minute break, the second half of the extra-time started off well, with the VJC Soccer Girls team having great possession of the ball. However, as the players wove their way through the midfielders of the MJC team, they were abruptly intercepted by the defenders.
The supporters from both schools continued to show their support for their teams relentlessly. Whenever VJC soccer girls had managed to retain possession of the ball or whisk it away from MJ, the resounding sound of clappers and cheers surrounded the entire stadium. Nonetheless, it was evident that both teams had begun to tire, as the sky steadily darkened, the match wore on, and despite ferocious efforts on both sides to win the match, neither could score a goal.
Eventually, it was decided that the overall champion would be decided by penalty kicks.
This was it. The final moments that would determine whether VJC would win the championship yet again.
As each player came up to strike, an unheard silence struck a chord amongst the spectators. Insyirah Maritz (No. 25) was supposed to be the penalty saver but unfortunately had to give in to her body’s natural response of agonising leg cramps to such long play. Her resilience was stunning and a strong applause greeted her as she battled with pain. Hannah Lim (VJC goalkeeper) took her spot. Several minutes passed with several penalty shots, and Victorians soon realised that they were left with the last penalty shot of the game. So far, VJC had scored 3 penalties, while the opponents had only scored 2. This was the final showdown.
All eyes were on Hannah Lim as she walked towards the goalpost. Placing herself in her position, Hannah tilted her neck and first jumped to touch the goalpost above her, as if reassuring herself that this monumental save was totally within her capabilities. She set her eyes on the ball, with an unbreakable resolve clearly seen within her eyes. In a moment, Victorians started screaming with exultation. VJC soccer girls had won the penalty shootout 3-2!
“When I saved the last ball, I definitely didn’t know it was the last penalty. When the referee blew the whistle, I realised that I did it. At the end of the day, I’m proud of what I did and how far I’ve come.”
After the match, Mr Tan, the soccer girls’ coach, was asked to describe in one world what he was feeling. He simply said that he was “relieved”, but the meaning behind that felt almost tangible. Frances Pek, the Vice-President of our 33rd Student’s Council, commended the girls for their unwavering spirit in such a “huge fight”, despite “fall(ing) to the ground” but still “pushing to fight for it, fight for VJ”.
When interviewed about her views towards the match, the grinning Ms Ek commented, “Wonderful! They played very well and I’m really proud of them!” Before our reporters could even thank Ms Ek, she had already rushed off to the field to show the soccer girls her support!
The Victorian Press would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the VJC Soccer Girls and wish the VJC Soccer Boys good luck for their upcoming finals.
Juhi Agrawal, 17S37
Lois Kok Yu Qin, 17S62
Chan Siew Min, 17S63
Rajkumar Snehaa, 17S62
Dev Hathiramani, 17S40