St Andrew’s down Raffles in shoot-out to claim B Division hockey title
St Andrew’s Secondary School captain S. Ahilan was hoisted into the air by his schoolmates as shouts of “MVP” (Most Valuable Player) rang out at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium.
It was a fitting moment on Wednesday evening that encapsulated the heroics of Ahilan, who converted the winning penalty in a dramatic shoot-out in the National School Games B Division boys’ hockey final.
St Andrew’s prevailed 4-3 over Raffles Institution to win their first title since 2019 after the match ended goal-less in regulation time.
Amid the drums, flags and fanfare from around 300 fans, it all came down to the seventh round in the shoot-out after both teams converted three of their first five attempts and then missed their first sudden-death shots.
While Ahilan drowned out the noise to convert his penalty, RI captain Jaydon Poh lobbed his effort over the crossbar and collapsed to the ground in tears, sparking a pitch invasion by euphoric St Andrew’s students.
It was the second straight year RI had lost in the final after their 3-0 defeat by Victoria School in 2022.
Ahilan, a Secondary 4 student who has been called up to the national youth hockey team, said: “To be honest, I thought we had won after I scored my penalty. I forgot Raffles had another penalty. But luckily... we won.
“We trained three or four times a week and spent endless hours working on everything, including our penalties. Our hard work paid off today.”
The St Andrew’s defender had earlier helped his team withstand a late fourth-quarter onslaught from RI, who dominated possession and had six penalty corners in just seven minutes.
Poh was left to rue not only his penalty miss but also the other wasted opportunities. The Secondary 3 student said: “It’s definitely going to stay in my mind for a while.
“But I have to keep my head up and go again next year. Hopefully, we can win the title next time.
“Our coach was telling us to get our rewards during penalty corners, so we were very upset not to get any goals during the PCs (penalty corners).”
Teammate Ethan Wong added that RI were pleased to overcome a “mental barrier” after overturning a two-goal deficit to beat defending champions Victoria 3-2 in the semi-finals. Victoria claimed third place after defeating Sengkang Secondary School 2-1 in the play-off.
St Andrew’s coach Paramjit Singh, in charge of the B Division team since 2002, said: “Both sides played really hard and it was a close game. Last year, we lost in a shoot-out against Raffles in the semi-finals.
“This team may not be stronger than last year, but they kept together and worked really hard to get what they wanted. I’m really happy for them.”