By Jonathan Tan (13AO1C) and Zara Nicole Toh (13AO1B)
The IHC Soccer event was perhaps the most appropriate curtain-raiser for IHC Sports 2012 as it took centre stage in the Main Field on the Wednesday, 25th July. It did not disappoint, serving up some exciting action between the houses, with mere goal difference separating most of the houses at the end of the round-robin matches.
Prior to this event, BB was widely tipped as the hot favourites with their strong line-up containing a good strong defence supporting an array of attacking talents. Nonetheless, the rest of the houses were no pushovers and gave it a real go, but eventually the final was to be contested between MR and BB, with MR proving the surprise package of this tournament, having been written off by most.
It seemed like a real walkover was about to ensue, but this was not to be. Although BB predictably dominated much of the possession and pegged MR back in their own half for long periods of time, MR were not about to give in and launched a few counter-attacks that threatened the BB goal. Apart from hitting the post with a header, MR’s Ong Marcus had a golden opportunity to put the underdogs ahead having been sent through on goal by a brilliant through pass, only to muster a weak attempt on goal due to cramps. As BB cranked up the pressure in the second half, they were denied by the woodwork and also found MR’s goalkeeper Toan in inspired form, keeping them at bay for the remainder of regular time.
Extra time kicked off and BB camped in the MR half. It seemed a matter of time before they found the breakthrough and sure enough, they took the lead through Joel Chong and it seemed that MR’s dreams were all but over. Yet, despite being dealt this hammer blow, MR kept their heads up and went in search of an equalizer. Complacency began to creep into BB players, and this allowed MR to launch a wave of attacks resulting in a slew of corners. As the final whistle approached, Shaun Lim made a trademark dribble through the BB defence and unleashed a powerful drive that the BB goalkeeper could not keep out, securing a precious equalizer.
With seconds left on the clock, every ball was meant with a hashed clearance. The final whistle brought a sense of frustration in BB players, but the feeling among the MR players was clearly an overwhelming sense of relief that they were still in with a shout. Penalty kicks beckoned.
The penalty shootout was immediate sudden death, so there was absolutely zero margin for error. BB were to go first. Kiran stepped up and sent a low powerful drive down the middle that Toan could not get his hands to. 1-0 to BB.
MR’s turn was next. Shaun Lim stepped up but he was clearly walking gingerly (he had actually torn his ankle ligaments and even played the last two matches with an injured left ankle – get well soon Shaun!) up to the penalty spot. He took a short run-up and drilled a shot that kept rising. With goalkeeper Joel Chong stranded, the ball struck the crossbar and ricocheted back. The game was over. BB had won 1-0 on penalties.
The BB players immediately ran and swarmed around goalkeeper Joel Chong and piled on each other on the field in celebration of their win. The MR players, however, were predictably upset and Shaun in particular was disconsolate at missing the penalty after working so hard to equalize earlier.
Nonetheless, it was an admirable effort by the MR players who were written off from the start but emerged as the underdogs to reach the final, holding their own against a clearly technically and physically superior BB side. Kudos must be given to the BB side for not letting complacency set in and fulfilling their potential in winning 1st.
Soccer aside, there were other events happening around the school on Day 1, which was a good day for MR, who added three 1st place finishes in Squash, Dodgeball and Volleyball to the 2nd place finish in soccer to take the lead for IHC sports. In terms of IHC standings, MT and HH followed closely behind with two 1st place finishes respectively.
However, in the greater scheme of things in terms of the overall house standings, MR certainly gained much as BW found the going tough on Day 1. Apart from two 2nd place finishes in Girls’ Floorball and Squash, they had a mix of 4th and 5th places for the remainder of the sports, even suffering a walkover in Volleyball. This certainly does not bode well for BW and the onus is on them to pick it up in the following days to keep their noses ahead as MR breathes down their necks.
Overall Summary of Day 1 Results: