by Monica Lee (16S06J)
Photos by Carla Mosqueda (16A03A) of the Raffles Photographic Society
“For our team, every match and victory was a hard-earned victory.”
On the 22nd of May, the Raffles Soccer (Girls) A Division team played their 3rd/4th placing match against Jurong Junior College at the Serangoon Stadium. In spite of the grey skies and humid weather, the team was pumped up and ready for the game. As the clock ticked down to 3 pm, the stands slowly filled with Rafflesian supporters cheering for the girls, and the commentators gave rundowns on JJC’s and RI’s teams. The two teams lined up along the stadium’s tunnel and together with the four referees, took the field to the announcement, “Without further ado, please welcome the teams of Jurong Junior College and Raffles Institution!”. As per usual, the teams engaged in the pre-match handshake in a show of sportsmanship. With a rousing cheer, the RI team broke from their last huddle and fanned out across the field, taking their positions. The stands quietened down, tense. The whistle marked the start of the match, and the fight for third place began.
Right from the kick-off, the team dominated the field, largely containing the game within JJC’s half of the pitch. RI’s attackers were strong and had many chances at the goal, but were unable to capitalise on their runs and passes – the opposing team was clustered in the penalty area, making manoeuvring – and scoring – difficult. Defensively speaking, the team was tight as well. On the occasions that the JJC attackers managed to kick the ball past the halfway line on the field, the team’s midfielders and defenders were almost always able to intercept the ball and send it flying straight back into JJC’s half.
The team displayed impressive footwork in their attempts to evade the JJC defenders. Side-stepping and feinting allowed the players to maintain possession of the ball and put pressure on the opposing team. They were handsomely rewarded for their efforts – RI drew first blood in the match 15 minutes into the first half through Beatrice Yip (#17, 15S03M), who scored the opener with a neat shot driving the ball into the back of the net. Simone Sim (#3, 15S03H) then scored the second goal of the match within a mere two minutes of the first, extending RI’s lead to 2-0.
JJC put up a valiant fight as well: for a few tense minutes, JJC’s players managed to press deep into our team’s half of the field and sought to score a goal, but good defending on RI’s part by Captain Victoria Goh (#10, 15S03S) sent the ball out of our half and back into JJC’s territory. The next few minutes saw the ball in a constant back-and-forth between JJC’s and RI’s territory. It ended with JJC claiming their first goal of the match, kicking in a well-positioned shot past the RI goalkeeper. The team quickly regained their momentum and went back on the offensive, showing skillful control over the ball and deft footwork. The team made multiple good runs, but were unfortunately unable to get past JJC’s defence; the game went into the halftime break with RI leading at 2-1.
Just a minute into the second half, Simone Sim (#3, 15S03H) scored her second goal with an assist from K Keerthana (#7, 15S06D). RI continued to dominate play, riding the momentum to a fourth goal by K Keerthana (#7, 15S06D). In response, JJC rallied, putting in a well-placed high ball that gained them their second goal of the match and forced RI to go on the defensive. The team soon regained their advantage – solid defence and sharp attack prevented JJC from penetrating too deeply into RI’s half, and gave the RI attackers chances to further widen the scoreline.
25 minutes into the second half, the team managed to once again pull ahead of JJC, with Beatrice Yip (#17, 15S03M) propelling the ball past the JJC goalkeeper’s outstretched arms into the back of the net with a low shot. This brought the scoreline to 5-2 to Raffles. Tensions ran high as the game went into the last 10 minutes. Clashes and tumbles were not uncommon – at one point, a JJC player appeared to push one of our team’s players, prompting shouts of ‘Foul!’ from the stands. The team managed to contain JJC by constantly intercepting their passes, keeping gameplay in their half of the pitch. As the match progressed, JJC’s players appeared to willingly concede throw-ins, kicking the ball out of play whenever RI’s attackers got too close for comfort – most likely in a bid to halt the progression of the RI attackers.
In the dying moments of the game, JJC’s players fought hard to make a comeback, but were ultimately unable to narrow the gap in the scoreline. 3 minutes of extra time were called; despite finding themselves trailing 5-2, JJC commendably pushed on, striving to equalise the score – but they could find no chink in the armour of our team’s unyielding defense. The match concluded with the girls securing a decisive victory.
In the words of Captain Victoria Goh (#10, 15S03S), “The team worked really, really hard for this whole season. We are glad that the months of training have really paid off.” Indeed, the RI Soccer Girls team played wonderfully, ending the game on a well-deserved win of 5-2, and emerging victorious to claim 3rd place in the 2015 A Division Girls’ Football Championships. Even more impressive is the fact that soccer is not traditionally regarded as a girls’ game and so girls are typically not given a chance to learn it – with no DSA admissions, most of the team started out as newcomers to the game just last year. That they managed to pick up the game in the short span of a year stands as testament to the long, grueling hours of training they put in: at least 3 sessions a week, with trainings increasing in frequency in the lead up to their season. As the captain said, “I would really like to thank my team for training so hard and putting in their all, and just simply running for every single ball and never giving up.” She credited the team’s coaches and teacher-in-charge for their “commendable dedication”, adding that their victories “would not have been possible without our coaches, especially Mr. Leong, Mr. Man, and Mr. Iqbal, and also our teacher, Mrs. Cheng.” It was evident that afternoon that the team played not just for school pride, or for glory, or for the win; they played for the love of this beautiful, beautiful game. Raffles Press would like to congratulate the team for their victory and wish them the best of luck in their future competitions!
Scoring by half
RI vs JJC:
1st half: 2-1
2nd half: 3-1 (5-2)
Simone Sim (#3, 15S03H) – 2 goals
Beatrice Yip Kai Wen (#17) – 2 goals
K Keerthana (#7, 15S06D) – 1 goal
Abinaya Mahatma (#1, 15S06H)
Vanessa Chen Hui En (#2, 15S03O)
Simone Sim (#3, 15S03H)
Low Fay E Reis (#4, 15S07B)
Syahirah Humaira Bte Amrun (#5, 15S07A)
Filzah Hanis Binte Osman (#6, 15S03T)
K Keerthana (#7, 15S06D)
Varenya d/o Uthay Kumaran (#8, 15S03L)
Goh Ming Wei (#9, 16S06F)
Victoria Goh Sze Hui (#10, 15S03S)
Chong Yan Wen (#11, 15S03F)
Sisyena Anusha Gunaravi (#12, 15S03S)
Ong Pei Jie Janelle (#13, 15S06B)
Guo Shibei (#14, 15S06L)
Liu Chen Yu Jessica (#15, 15S06N)
Leong Kylie (#16, 15S06C)
Beatrice Yip Kai Wen (#17, 15S03M)
Valerie Lee Sze Jie (#20, 15S06E)
Victoria Tan Yee Ling (#21, 15A01D)
Zahirah Rosle (#23, 16A01C)