Story by Yvonne Yap/Red Sports. Pictures by Vanessa Lim/Red Sports
Shaun Phoon (SMU #7) trying to get a shot. (Photo 1 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
National University of Singapore Sports and Recreation Complex, Saturday, 15 January, 2011 — Singapore Management University (SMU) came from behind to force a 10-10 tie with Masters in the NUS Water Polo Challenge. However, it was not enough as they lost 12-15 in extra time and had to settle for a bronze medal playoff game.
Both sides started off defensively, choosing to man mark their opponents. The more experienced Masters, made up of alumni water polo players from various varsity institutes, opened the scoring through their #2.
SMU’s Shaun Phoon (SMU #7) then tried to level the score through a close range shot but his shot lacked power and was saved by the keeper easily. Two more goals came from Andre Teo (Masters #3) and their #2 made it 3-0 to Masters at the end of the first quarter. SMU had an advantageous 6-on-5 situation towards the end of the quarter, but they failed to penetrate Masters’ wall of defence and had to end the quarter 0-3 down.
The second quarter saw more goals for both sides, with a total of 11 goals scored during the half. Teo Chung Nyun (Masters #4) managed to get on the score sheet with two goals, while Andre added two more goals to his count. The Masters #9 also scored one for his side in the fifth minute of the quarter as well.
However, SMU managed to close the three goal gap to two by scoring six goals. Their first goal of the game came when they were 0-4 down in the first minute, with Sherwin Lim (SMU #3) getting on the scoresheet for his team. Wen Yuan (SMU #10) boosted his team, contributing four goals during this period despite being chased down by four defenders at one point. He also assisted Liu Xing Hui (SMU #2) in his goal at the halfway mark of the quarter, with a long pass to his teammate in front of goal. The quarter ended at 8-6 to Masters.
Each side was restricted to scoring one goal only in the third quarter. SMU’s Shaun Phoon (SMU #7) had a chance to score in the opening minutes through a bounce shot, but the ball only struck the post and went out of play. He had another chance to score through a penalty goal, but once again it struck the crossbar.
Andre then scored for Masters in a 4-on-3 situation in front of goal, after Danny Goh (SMU #8) was fouled out of the game. However, SMU managed a reply with a goal just two minutes after, gaining possession of the ball from a free throw after Yao Xiang committed a foul. Chang Jian (SMU #5) made a quick charge down the flank, catching the defenders off guard and placed the ball in goal to make it 7-9 to SMU at the end of the quarter.
The final quarter saw SMU going all out, with Anthony Chee (SMU #9) making quick work from a pass from teammate Wen Yuan, scoring the eighth goal for his side. Masters’ Benson (Masters #10) was then ejected for a foul, allowing SMU’s Xing Hui to pass the ball from a free throw to Danny, who placed it behind the net to force a 9-9 draw with Masters with just four minutes of playing time, bringing the game down to the wire.
The Masters #2 then scored for his team with 50 seconds left on the shot clock and seemed to have sealed the semi-final for his side. However, it was not meant to be when Anthony intercepted Masters’ play in the last 10 seconds and Shaun did the job of sending the game into extra time, with both sides tied at 10-10.
Masters seemed to be energised in extra time, scoring five goals within the first three minutes through Lim Yao Xiang (Masters #6), Chong Nyun, their #2 and two from their #9, creating a huge advantage over their opponents. SMU could only reply with two goals in the second half of extra time through Chang Jian and Shaun Phoon, and it was not enough to see them through to the final as they were handed a 12-15 defeat by the senior team.
“We played quite well, but lacked concentration in some quarters and went down,” SMU senior player Chang Jian commented.
He also felt that the SMU team had improved from the previous year, with new blood being introduced to the team. In 2010, the team finished fifth in the competition but they have a shot at the bronze medal this year.
When asked about their upcoming bronze medal playoff with Ngee Ann Polytechnic, who lost 6-15 in their semi-final against defending champion National University of Singapore, he said, “We are definitely more experienced and will try to slow down the game to our pace.”
Master #4’s shot is blocked by SMU’s Keeper. (Photo 2 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
A shot by the Masters #2 finds the back of the net. (Photo 2 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
A masters player trying to intercept the ball from Anthony Chee (SMU #9). (Photo 3 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
Wen Yuan (SMU #10) tries to get a clear shot at the goal. (Photo 4 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)