Dolphins stun Stingrays with last-gasp winner
Soh's last-gasp winner topples defending champions
Just minutes earlier, they were staring defeat in the face.
But the Blaze Dolphins showed nerves of steel in yesterday's M1 Netball Super League (NSL) final, with goal-shooter Cassandra Soh sinking in a late winner to edge out the Sneakers Stingrays 50-49.
The time left on the clock: Two seconds.
It capped off a remarkable comeback for the Dolphins, who were trailing 49-46 with two minutes remaining at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall.
In fact, the Stingrays were in the driver's seat right into the final moments, until a misplaced pass by centre Carmen Goh with just 15 seconds left handed the initiative back to the Dolphins.
Dolphins co-captain Micky Lin, who announced her international retirement on Tuesday, described this as the best-ever season for the team.
She said: "It's a bit surreal. But we were really patient today and I think overall, the team managed to keep it together and minimise the mistakes.
"And we tried really hard... so I'm really pleased with our performance."
A delighted Dolphins coach Wang Jingqing praised her side's fighting spirit.
Victory was especially sweet as her team had lost to the Stingrays twice in the preliminary round.
Said Wang: "I didn't expect it, but we told ourselves to fight till the end.
"In the last two minutes, when the game got the other way round, we thought it was gone.
"But we continued to fight hard and didn't give up, so it was really a very sweet win."
It was a topsy-turvy match packed with drama.
The Stingrays started the game strongly, going 13-9 up by the end of the first quarter. However, the Dolphins stormed back after the first interval to take a 26-22 half-time lead.
The Stingrays, though, narrowed the deficit to a single point at the end of the third quarter to set up a nail-biting finish. But, despite their best efforts, they couldn't retain the title they won last year.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, Stingrays captain Goh is confident that they will come back stronger for it.
She said: "We know what we have to work on and we'll work on that and come back a stronger team."
The champions took home $10,000 while the runners-up received $6,000.
M1 NETBALL SUPER LEAGUE FINAL STANDINGS
1. Blaze Dolphins
2. Sneakers Stingrays
3. Magic Marlins
4. Tiger Sharks
5. Mission Mannas
6. Fier Orcas
M1 NSL MOST VALUABLE PLAYER AWARDS
- Blaze Dolphins: Chen Hui Fen
- Fier Orcas: Celeste Lee
- Magic Marlins: Premila Hirubalan
- Mission Mannas: Siti Nurshawallah
- Sneakers Stingrays: Wong Pei Ying
- Tiger Sharks: Hannah Broederlow
MOST VALUABLE FOREIGN PLAYER: Lilian Sylidion (Tanzania, Blaze Dolphins)
MOST IMPROVED UMPIRE: Nigel Lim
MOST VALUABLE COACH: Wang Jingqing (Blaze Dolphins)
Aitken names training squad
Netball Singapore yesterday announced a squad of 21 players to train under coach Ruth Aitken this season.
Trials will be held on May 28 to pick the 15 players who will go on a training tour of Fiji. The team will be whittled to a final 12 for the Asian Netball Championships in Thailand from July 30 to Aug 7.
Avelyn Long and Nur Athirah Zulkiffle from the Under-21s have been promoted to the squad while Melody Teo and Vanessa Lee have also been recalled after some time away.
On Tuesday, Micky Lin, Chen Hui Fen and Premila Hirubalan, who have 328 caps among them, announced their retirement from the national team.
- LAURA CHIA
Anna Soo, Avelyn Leong, Cassandra Soh, Charmaine Soh, Chen Lili, Jocelyn Ng, Kimberly Lim, Kwok Shuyi, Melody Teo, Natalie Long, Nur Aqilah Afiqah, Nur Athirah Zulkiffle, Nurul Baizura, Pamela Liew, Parveen Nair, Shawallah Rashid, Shina Teo, Toh Wan Ling, Vanessa Lee, Yasmin Ho, Yu Mei Ling.