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HomeschoolsNaomi the unlikely heroine in Crescent Girls’ C Division hockey triumph over...

Naomi the unlikely heroine in Crescent Girls’ C Division hockey triumph over St Nicholas

SINGAPORE – Right midfielder Sugawara Naomi Anne is not known for scoring goals given her position on the pitch. But her knack of converting chances from penalty corners has proven handy in Crescent Girls’ School’s march to the National School Games C Division girls’ hockey crown.

On Thursday, the 14-year-old was her team’s heroine, scoring the winner in the 1-0 victory over CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School (Secondary) at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium to retain the title.

It was their fifth since 2016.

She had performed a similar feat of scoring the only goal during a penalty corner in Monday’s semi-final against CHIJ St Theresa’s Convent. That was also her first goal of the tournament.

A delighted Naomi said after the match: “It was very thrilling and exciting because even my coach said I was the unlikeliest player to score.

“It was really heart-warming to help the team.”

The fact that her goal came five minutes from the end felt even sweeter.

She added: “With five minutes left, we really wanted a goal to prevent a (penalty) shoot-out, so I couldn’t describe my feeling after the goal.”

Teacher-in-charge Nadrah Sadali, 32, paid tribute to Naomi, saying: “You don’t always get chances like this but when the opportunity presents itself, you should take it.

“These goals were examples of her being in the right place at the right time.”

The start was delayed for more than 20 minutes due to the lightning warning system, but it failed to dampen the spirits of the more than 150 fans who turned up.

The long wait also did not affect the Crescent players. Instead, they did their usual pre-match routine of holding hands and meditating.

Captain Shetty Sia Sandeep explained: “We believed that if we remain calm, we will play well.”

After a cagey first half, Crescent upped their intensity and their persistence paid off when they were awarded a penalty corner.

Faith Ong’s shot on the edge of the penalty circle was deflected into Naomi’s path.

As her effort trickled over the goal line into the bottom corner, their supporters erupted in cheers.

Sia was proud of her team’s efforts, saying: “It’s really satisfying because of the effort we put in.

“We didn’t give up until the end and maintained the belief we could score.”

Nadrah added that the fighting spirit was “a good reflection of the season”.

She said: “The girls focused on what the game plan was and carried it out.”

St Nicholas captain Marabelle Lee was gracious in defeat.

The 14-year-old said: “We kept going and fighting. I don’t think anything went wrong, Crescent just played well.”

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