Ayshath is RI's pillar

Ayshath is RI's pillar
NO PAIN, NO GAIN: Raffles Institution’s Ayshath Zaseela (2nd left) starred despite a calf strain.

Raffles Institution (RI) had a lot to thank goalkeeper Ayshath Zaseela for as they retained their Schools National A Division netball crown yesterday, overwhelming River Valley High School (RVHS) 54-29 at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall.

Ayshath, 17, was playing with a calf injury suffered in the semi-finals, but still put up a strong and agile defence to help RI to a 14-6 first-quarter lead which they never relinquished.

She is a member of the national Under-21 team as well, and has played in defence since taking up netball in Primary 3.

"I think I played well today even though I had strained my calf," she said. "I managed to get through all four quarters."

RI coach Goh Seck Tuck agreed, saying: "Ayshath was outstanding. She fought for every single ball and did very well.

"River Valley put up a good fight. It's the challenge that made the game interesting.

"I am very happy, not just with the outcome, but also with how my team developed their play to cope with the challenge."

The match was played to the deafening cheers of both schools' supporters, which RI goal shooter Isabelle Belanger, 17, found encouraging.

"Their cheers really gave me the boost of confidence I needed to put in the shots," she said.

The 1.84m player stayed calm and collected throughout the game, scoring with effortless ease.

RVHS coach Puva Alahakone was pleased with her team's performance.

"I can't fault them," she said. "They were fighters all the way."

RVHS had only nine players and, with one injured, only eight played in yesterday's match.

They exhibited excellent teamwork, but could not overcome RI's defence to win.

"As a team, RI were much faster," the RVHS coach said. "Their defenders were extremely good.

"My girls were overwhelmed at the start, but we improved over the course of the match."

This article was first published on May 23, 2015.
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