SINGAPORE – Raffles Institution may have claimed four consecutive A Division boys’ hockey titles, but there was no less pressure involved in winning their fifth.
The perennial hockey powerhouses, who have now secured nine of the last 11 championships, rose to the occasion again on Monday at the Sengkang Hockey Pitch with a commanding 4-0 win over rivals Victoria Junior College (VJC).
RI captain Joshua Poh, a JC2 student, said: “There is a lot of pressure because if we had lost, we would’ve been known as the batch that didn’t win. So we knew we had to win, if not we would be mocked by the alumni.
“We came into this game with confidence but we didn’t expect the scoreline to be so high. VJC put up a good fight, but they fell off towards the end when we scored the penalty corners.”
The Rafflesians converted three late penalty corners to secure the win, but not everything was smooth sailing prior to that.
RI coach Ahmad Bakri Marfi, 35, told his players to “switch on mentally” after a string of missed penalty corners in the opening two quarters left them with just a single goal advantage at the interval.
The defending champions had earlier romped to a 7-1 semi-final win over Anderson-Serangoon Junior College and scored 22 unanswered goals across three preliminary round matches.
Bakri, who has coached RI since 2012, said: “I told the boys before the last quarter. It’s not about the opponent but about ourselves. We had seven or eight penalty corners in the first half, but we just threw them away. But once we scored the first one, the second and third came as well.”
Two of those three goals were scored by Peh Yu, 18. The JC2 student said: “When I scored, it felt really awesome because I’m usually a defender. It’s quite difficult for me to score usually, so I’m quite happy with the two goals today.”
For VJC, it was a case of deja vu after they failed to avenge a 2-0 defeat to the same opponents in the 2022 final.
VJC coach Nordin Manaff, 57, said: “They (his players) didn’t play their best today. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s a final but it wasn’t them today.
“After the second goal, we lost the plot. RI were playing better and we accept the defeat. Hopefully the boys will learn something from this and maybe next year we will get the title back.”