By Cheah Zong Heng (24S06P) and Nor Akmal (23S03A)
Supporters collectively held their breaths. Instantly, once the shrill starting whistle rang, flashes of red emerged at the centre of the court. Jostling for possession, the Raffles floorball team sprang into action like a well-oiled machine. Not to be outdone, the undeterred Victorians responded with vigour and strength, auguring an intense match.
Coming into the match, the Victorian and Rafflesian teams were not completely foreign to each other. With the possession of the champions trophy alternating between the 2 sides for years, the Victorian squad had just beaten the Rafflesian team 2-1 in 2022’s iteration. Evidently, this was shaping up to be a rematch, with the Rafflesian team hoping to reclaim their pole position.
Yet the journey to the finals had not been entirely smooth sailing, at least according to Caedan Tan (24S06P), one of the players in the line-up. “But we did not let our emotions get to us,” he explained, “We worked through [the problems] as a team.”
When asked about what the team would focus on to regain the trophy, Caedan cited both teamwork and staying calm and composed.
Within the first few minutes, it was apparent that this match was shaping up to be particularly intense.
Against the backdrop of deafening cheers interlaced with the unmistakable rhythmic beating of the drum, the Victorian side fired the opening salvo. Capitalising on a blunder, the Victorian team scored the opening goal at 0:59 to the resounding whoops of their supporters.
In response, Rafflesians broke out into cheers, attempting to drown out the Victorian camp and setting up an unofficial back-and-forth ‘cheering contest’.
Both teams now went on the offensive. In the now fast-paced game, the possession of the ball alternated rapidly between the teams, with the high-octane action leaving viewers on the edge. After numerous attempts at scoring by both sides, the Victorian squad rode on the momentum to chalk up another point at 7:22.
Despite trailing by 2-0, the Rafflesian side refused to surrender, managing to save 3 incoming balls within a minute and a half.
After a short break, the teams returned onto the court for the second period.
At the 3:30 mark of the second period, the Rafflesian side finally managed to break through Victorian’s seemingly impenetrable defence. Jumping on the opportunity, Tan Kai Zhe (24S03M) scored RI’s first goal of the match. Spontaneously, supporters broke out into hurrahs, brimming with optimism that this match could be turned around.
However, under the relentless attacks of the Victorians, the Rafflesian side conceded a point at 6:30.
At this critical juncture, a penalty was awarded to RI. Pin-drop silence enveloped the previously exuberant stands as fans collectively held their breath. Charles Alexander (24S06C) calmly bided his time. Taking a beautiful shot, he immediately narrowed Victoria’s lead to 1 point.
Instantly, the stand was awash with exhilaration, the student councillors leading the crowd to a rousing cheer.
The momentum had now ostensibly swung in favour of Raffles. At 9:12, Caedan Tan (24S06P) took advantage of a gap in the opponent’s defence to score an equaliser to roars of approval.
Leading up to the final period, both sides were neck-and-neck in points. Supporters from both sides now cheered their hearts out, on tenterhooks as they awaited the outcome of the match.
Teams now went all-out. Desperate to gain a leg-up over their opponents, they contested the possession of the balls at every turn.
At the 3:45 mark, the Victorian side finally broke through the stalemate, taking the score to 4-3. A penalty shoot awarded later to the Victorians at 5:45 would bring the score to 5-3.
As the clocks ticked down, raw emotions threatened to spill out in the open, with the Raffles team communicating their displeasure at the referee’s decisions multiple times. Certain quarters of supporters grew increasingly vexed amidst allegations of perceived bias flying around the stands.
Despite conceding another point to the Victorians, Caedan Tan (24S06P) would go on to complete a brace, narrowing the lead to 6-4.
However, despite their fervent attempts to catch up at the last minute, it ultimately proved to be futile in the face of strong Victorian resistance.
As the final whistle blew, the victorious Victorians ran onto the court while the dejected Rafflesians comforted each other with pats on the backs.
“We put on a tough fight,” declared Caedan, “We never gave up.”
Although admitting that at times the team could have been more level-headed, he still credited the fighting spirit for the comeback during the second period.
Echoing Caedan’s point, the captain of the floorball team, Ranen Chong (23S06T), expressed, “I am very proud of my teammates for fighting till the end… I think our sheer will and spirit.. was evident.”
Ranen also lauded the team’s chemistry and teamwork. “We ran up and down the court playing to each other’s ability.”
Despite the loss, Ranen has no regrets. Explaining that he had known some of his teammates since Secondary 1, his teammates have become like family to him.
“It’s been a privilege to be their captain and an honour to play with [them].”