Story by Yvonne Yap/Red Sports. Pictures by Vanessa Lim/Red Sports.
Tight defense by the NUS team as a Masters player takes the shot. (Photo 1 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
National University of Singapore Sports and Recreation Complex, Friday, 21 January, 2011 — National University of Singapore (NUS) retained their title with a 14-10 victory over Masters in the NUS Water Polo Challenge final. Masters is a team of alumni water polo players from various tertiary institutes. Meanwhile, Ngee Ann Polytechnic clinched second runners-up after beating Singapore Management University 12-7 in the bronze medal playoff.
NUS started off the scoring when they got into a 6-on-5 situation after Masters’ Gareth Gu (Masters #11) was ejected for a foul. Ng Li-Ming (NUS #11) capitalised on the extra man advantage and scored after receiving a pass from national player Lin Diyan (NUS #6). Their second goal came a minute after through Marcus Goh (NUS #9) who scored from the left flank.
Masters managed to come up with a reply three minutes into the game through a 6-on-5 situation as well. With three seconds left on their shot clock, Marcus Ng (Masters #7) received the pass from Goh Jiale (Masters #9) and drove the ball into the goal with a bounce shot. Not to be outdone, NUS replied in kind through Lim Shang Cong (NUS #13) after restarting play to make it 3-1 to the hosts.
Jerome Cheok Yee (Masters #2) got on the scoresheet for Masters with a bounce shot five metres from goal to close the score to 2-3. However, NUS drove two more goals into the net through Lin Diyang (NUS #7) and Marcus Goh to end the quarter 5-2 up.
In the second quarter, both sides scored two goals each as the senior players man-marked the hosts, clamping down on their space and restricting their fluid passing. NUS scored through Ivan Qiu (NUS #5) and Lin Diyang while Jerome found the net twice for Masters, making it 7-4 at half time.
Masters tried to fire their way back into title contention in the first two minutes of the third quarter, with Jerome scoring twice, bringing his goal tally for the game to five. However, the hosts were awarded a penalty after Max Tay (Masters #4) was booked for a foul at 5:44, allowing Marcus Goh to score the eighth goal for NUS. Lim Shang Cong scored again just a minute later, placing his side 9-6 up.
Yao Xiang was ejected again with three minutes left to the quarter, gifting NUS yet another 6-on-5 advantageous situation, allowing Diyang to score his third goal of the game. Shang Cong scored from the left flank a minute later to increase the hosts’ lead to 11-6.
The senior players scored twice in the final minute, warning the hosts that they were not done with the game. Max Tay (Masters #4) and Goh Jiale (Masters #9) got on the scoresheet, as the third quarter ended 11-8 to NUS.
NUS started their final quarter with one goal apiece from Lin Diyan and Lim Shang Cong. Masters then scored two extra man goals through Seng Yue (Masters #5) and Yao Xiang when NUS players Willis Lin (NUS #10) and Li Sheng Hao (NUS #4) were ejected from the game, making it 10-11 to Masters.
The senior players dug deep to force an equaliser in the dying minutes but their hopes were crushed when they conceded a goal to Marcus Goh, who placed the ball in the top right corner of goal, sealing their victory 14-10.
“They definitely edged us out in terms of experience,” NUS captain Kenneth Foo replied when asked about the narrow scoreline of 14-10, as compared to the large victory score margins his team enjoyed during the group stages.
“We’re lucky we played better as a team and we edged out in fitness although they (Masters) are more experienced than us.”
Yao Xiang (Masters #6) tries to make an interception. (Photo 2 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
Marcus Goh (NUS #9) takes a shot. (Photo 3 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
Marcus Goh (NUS #9) loses grip on the ball after Max Tay (Masters #4) tries to push him down. (Photo 4 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
Both players have their eye on the ball. (Photo 5 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
NUS goalkeeper keeps his eye on the ball as Yao XIang (Masters #6) takes a penalty for his team. (Photo 6 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
Jiele (Masters #4) looks for an open teammate. (Photo 7 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)
Yao Xiang (Masters #6) throws a pass. (Photo 8 © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports)