By Joyce Lee (19S06O) and Nicole Chan (19S05A)
Photos courtesy of Li Ruiqi (19A01A) and Chloe Tan (19S03E) of the Raffles Photographic Society
Rounding off a successful season, Raffles Netball emerged first-runners up against perennial rivals Anglo-Chinese Junior College after a hard-fought finals match at Jurong East Sports Complex on 25 May. The fast-paced and riveting game between the two teams kept the spectators on the edge of their seats and was an inspiring display of athleticism and sportsmanship.
Before the game began, spectators streamed into the hall, bringing with them placards, flags and inflatable cheering sticks to show their support. Several supporters unfurled a giant Team Raffles banner on the second floor of the sports hall, prompting ecstatic cheers from spectators on the RI side.The excitement was palpable, as the team was looking to defend the championship title they had been holding for four years running.
Before the match began, the players formed a circle and chanted their team cheer to spur each other on. As they lined up along the centre of the court face-to-face with their opponents, the tension began to build as both teams knew that they were in for a tough fight. Afterwards, they quickly took their positions and the referee blew the whistle, kicking off the match.
There was no time to lose as the RI team scored the first goal in the first minute of the match. However, ACJC soon caught up, bringing the score to 4-8. In one electrifying moment, the Wing Defence on the RI side, Alëna Ong (18S06B) intercepted the ball just as ACJC was aiming for the hoop, eliciting loud applause from the spectators. After 15 minutes of adrenaline pumping action, the first quarter concluded with both teams tied at 11-11.
The second round upped the intensity by several notches, as both teams were eager to establish a lead. While RI scored two goals in the first few minutes, ACJC quickly regained the lead, scoring multiple consecutive goals and steadily widening the gap between the two teams. The atmosphere grew tense, with increasingly urgent yells of “defend!” and “Let’s go Raffles, let’s go!” from the RI supporters. One of the players took a hard fall mid-game, but got back on her feet in an admirable display of resilience, inciting loud cheers of encouragement from the spectators. This quarter ended on a more dismal note than the previous one, RI being in a precarious situation with ACJC leading 19-22.
Tensions were running high by the time the third quarter was under way, as ACJC rapidly widened the gap to 6 points. However, the RI team fought on and did not lose heart. As Goal Shooter Amandeep Kaur Chahal (18S03M) shared, “Even though the score pulled apart, I never lost faith in my defenders to intercept and bring the ball back down.” Knowing that this would be an uphill battle for RI, even the spectators who had been more apathetic earlier were roaring in excitement whenever RI successfully defended or scored a goal. This relentless encouragement from the supporters, combined with the team’s determination to catch up with ACJC, pushed them to regain some lost ground. The defenders, especially Goal Keeper Jamie Lim (18S06P) intercepted many near goals from the opposing shooters, and the attackers managed to score 3 consecutive goals. However, despite their best efforts, the third quarter still ended with ACJC leading 26-30.
The last quarter was, expectedly, the most nail-biting of all. Both teams played mercilessly, practically taking turns to score goals. ACJC would not give RI a chance to catch up, and RI paid them back in kind, not giving them a chance to further widen the gap. The players’ ferocity on the court was matched by the enthusiasm of the supporters in the stands; the RI supporters were whipped into a frenzy when RI scored 3 consecutive goals again. Even when time was running out, both teams did not let up: ACJC continued to defend their lead while RI relentlessly narrowed the score gap.
One of the reserves, Annabelle Lim (19S03P) recalls that, “Until the last second, we all had our hopes up thinking there was still a way to turn this around. The bench never gave up on the team and the players on court never gave up on the match either.” With such a good fight put up by both sides, RI ended up losing narrowly, the final score being 34-38. Many of the Raffles players were visibly distraught, especially the J2s, for whom this would be their last official match as a team.
As one J2, Miki Ng (18S03L) expressed, “Ending our last season by losing the championship streak our seniors have fought so hard to keep was not the way we wanted things to go. However, we fought hard as one team on the court, all the way down to that last whistle, and that made our last ever finals memorable nonetheless.”
Her sentiments were echoed in a comment by Annabelle. “This loss, though painful, has made our team much more bonded because we realised that we do not feel this pain individually but collectively as a team.” Looking forward, she added that, “the juniors have promised to train hard in order to compete for the championship title again next year.”
Raffles Press would like to congratulate Raffles Netball not only for clinching first runners-up against such formidable opponents, but also for their overall strong performance this season. Their tenacity and sheer skill in defeating so many competitors to make it to the finals are commendable, and we wish the team the best in the years to come.
Fourth Quarter (final score)
Amandeep Kaur, 18S03M (Goal Shooter)
Rebecca Leong, 19S06P (Goal Attack)
Grace Poong, 19S06L (Wing Attack)
Laura Low, 18S06R (Centre)
Alëna Ong, 18S06B (Wing Defence)
Miki Ng, 18S03L (Goal Defence)
Jamie Lim, 18S06P (Goal Keeper)
Keziah Sherlyn Vanessa, 19S05A
Annabelle Lim, 19S03P
Alexandra Tan, 19S06C
Trena Lee, 18S03N