by Bay Jia Wei (17S06R), Nadiya Nesseer (17S03B) and Tapasya Singh (17S03C)
Photos by Laura Woo (16S03H) of Raffles Photographic Society
The pressure and anticipation in the stadium was palpable as the Water Polo girls marched out for team introductions. Having attained 9 consecutive victories in the past 9 years, the A-Division Water Polo girls had a lot to live up to as this match would either determine or conclude their streak. Pitted against them on the afternoon of the Water Polo Finals was St Andrew’s Junior College.
At first whistle, both teams swam aggressively towards the center of the pool, with RI gaining quick possession of the ball. A good start to the game, RI executed brilliant and fast-paced, accurate passings, with Brenda Lim (Cap 2) ending the sequence by scoring 5 goals. RI proceeded to lead the first quarter with a score of 8-1. Confident, the RI Water Polo girls sailed through the second quarter easily, finishing with an outstanding 13-1. The goalkeeper from SAJC skillfully deflected a few shots, which the spectators found to be commendable, given the fierce aggression on RI’s part.
Luck, and sheer skill, were on RI’s side that afternoon. The team did not give in to complacency despite the large margin, and continued to give their all during the third quarter. One of the members even had her cap detached from her head, due to the intense tussling, showing both teams’ commitment to the competition. The final quarter of the Water Polo finals saw the opposing team’s desperation as they tried their very best to gain possession of the ball. RI was not about to give in, however. We were close to 20, and the members had their eyes set on that target. The 21st and last goal of the game was secured by Brenda in the remaining few seconds of the game. That concluded the 10th consecutive victory of the RI A-Division Water Polo girls team – a remarkable 19-2.
The result took the team and coach by surprise as they had outplayed themselves. In an interview, Captain Abielle Yeo shared her reflections on the game: “We really did our best in that final, doing way better than we did against the same team in the preliminaries. At the end of the day, that was really why we were so happy, and satisfied.”
While the girls had a clear lead from the very first quarter, the boys’ game was a much closer fight. Many more had filed into the stadium to watch the intense match against their opponents, Hwa Chong Institution, and the Rafflesian spirit dominated the stands as the RI Water Polo boys marched out to thunderous cheers.
The game started with Hwa Chong Institution gaining quick possession of the ball. RI soon intercepted a pass and attempted to score a goal but was thwarted by the goalkeeper, resulting in HCI scoring two successive goals within the first quarter. The second quarter started off with RI showing much more attacking éclat, with Finian Koh scoring RI’s first goal of the game. The second quarter ended with a 3-2 score in favour of HCI, the third quarter ending in a similar fashion with HCI in the lead with a 4-3 score.
The final quarter was undoubtedly the most anticipated, as supporters waited with bated breath to see if RI could overcome the disadvantage from the previous quarters. And that they did just that. A series of fast, accurate passes lead to the quarter ending with a 6-6 draw, resulting in a thrilling penalty shootout. With HCI starting on the penalties, everyone was looking at RI goalkeeper Bryan Yip with singular focus. While HCI managed to score the first goal, Bryan skillfully blocked the next two attacks. RI’s victory was cemented by 4 successful penalty shots, and the game ended to a roaring standing ovation in favour of RI with a score of 10-8.
The win was certainly well-deserved, as the boys’ team work and perseverance were second to none.
It was a hard-fought match, and spectator Ulfahtun Asyiqin (17S03E) told us that she was “very impressed with the performance” as the team “persevered through the tough game and had their efforts pay off”.