Victoria had raced to a 2-0 lead in the first period but several defensive lapses allowed Raffles to get back into the contest, as the game was tied at 3-3 at the start of the third period.
VJC never panicked though and scored three times in the final 15 minutes to claim the championship. Their captain Anas Baeesa, 18, said: “We made sure we cut off all their shots and when we attacked, we put it all on the line. We did wonderful and played our very best.”
SINGAPORE – Chernoa Chia used to play outfield for four years while on the River Valley High School floorball side. But she was really a team player. When the team needed a goalkeeper due to a lack of players, she rose to the challenge.
On Thursday, she played a starring role, saving five penalties in a shoot-out to help River Valley beat Victoria Junior College 1-0 in the A Division girls’ final. The match had ended 3-3 in regulation.
It was River Valley’s first championship since 2017. Chernoa, 18, said: “I rode on the trust my teammates have in me. I’m quite confident in my abilities but if I don’t believe in myself, I will believe in their belief in me and that’s how I fought to the end and stopped all those balls.
“We have fought so hard and finally got the gold medal we’ve been eyeing for six years.”
The match at Our Tampines Hub had ended in a thrilling draw and moved to penalties. Both schools missed their first three attempts, sending the contest into sudden-death. Neither could score their fourth penalty before River Valley forward Chia Kang Hui, who had missed her earlier shot, finally opened the scoring, firing past opposing goalkeeper Chloe Kwan.
Kang Hui, 17, said: “We did a lot of penalty practices during training and I usually do well but it’s different in a final with so many people. I completely missed my first shot and my heart stopped.
“We had another chance in sudden-death so I just took it. I breathed in and out and blocked out all the noise and maintained my composure.”
Her goal gave River Valley the lead and Chernoa sealed the victory when she saved VJC’s Choo Yu En’s attempt. She immediately disappeared in a blur of bodies as her teammates rushed onto the court to embrace her as about 500 supporters cheered on from the stands.
Chernoa said: “I played the whole match and through the shoot-out so it was very tiring for me. After I saved the ball, I was so relieved, my first thought was, ‘It’s over, we are champions!’”
The narrow defeat was heartbreaking for VJC, particularly after the way the final unfolded. The first period had ended goalless before VJC broke the deadlock four minutes into the second period thanks to Naveen Lim.
That led to a frenetic 11 remaining minutes of that period with four more goals as River Valley leading 3-2. They were hanging onto that slim advantage until two minutes from the end of the third period when Naveen equalised for VJC.
Captain Isabelle Chua, 17, said: “During the third period, we managed to come back and although it ended in 3-3, I feel that we won. Even though we lost, I think my team did exceptionally well and we fought to the very last second.”
There was some consolation later in the day for Victoria in the boys’ final, as they retained their title after beating Raffles Institution 6-4 in a rematch of the 2022 final, which VJC won 2-1.