The Lion City Sailors Women’s Team etched their names in history with a resounding 18-0 victory against Balestier Khalsa on Saturday (4 May) night, securing the largest winning margin ever recorded in the Deloitte Women’s Premier League (WPL).

No less than eight different Sailors found the back of the net at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium, with four of them – Nur Syazwani Ruzi, Nur Sarah Zu’risqha, Raeka Ee and Josephine Ang – bagging themselves a hat-trick.

It took only four minutes for the Sailors to open the scoring through Syazwani, whose flick off the outside of her boot from close range found the back of the net.

Sarah then doubled the Sailors’ lead in the eight minute, before Syazwani scored twice in quick succession – both of which were assisted by Qarissa Putri – to complete her hat-trick.

Syazwani was keen to acknowledge the team’s tight-knit bond and understanding as instrumental to her success in scoring goals. “The foundation of our connection on the pitch begins in training,” she elaborated. “We have a strong bond off the pitch, which helps us work well together during games. This unity helps us predict each other’s movements and preferences, making our passes and assists more accurate.”

Echoing Syazwani’s sentiments, Sailors Head Coach Daniel Ong remarked, “We’ve been focusing heavily on passing and player movement in our training sessions. The team is improving and becoming more cohesive with each session.”

Sailors’ prolific forward Raeka opened the scoring in the 28th minute, capitalising on a backheel pass by Dorcas Chu, who later secured a brace for herself in the match.

The three points were practically secured for the Sailors by half-time, as they entered the break with an 8-0 lead. However, Daniel’s charges did not ease up in the second half; instead, they switched to a back-three formation to further enhance their control and attacking threat in the game.

Explaining the switch to a 3-1-4-2 formation, Syazwani shared, “We weren’t very secure in terms of covering for each other in the first half. We picked it up as the game went on. We communicated a lot more in the second half and knew who was pushing forward and who needed to stay.”

The change in formation appeared to pay off, as the Sailors increased the intensity of their relentless assault on Balestier in the second-half. Raeka, who now leads the WPL scoring charts with eight goals, completed her hat-trick in the 55th minute, with Sarah following suit seven minutes later.

Josephine, who was introduced in the 71st minute alongside Liyana Rickit and Tia Foong, then seized the spotlight, with the 17-year-old scoring a hat-trick in the span of just five minutes.

Liyana also grabbed the opportunity to make her mark, as the 14-year-old – one of seven teenagers promoted to the senior squad from the Sailors Girls Academy this year – scored her first-ever goal for the Sailors.

“I didn’t even score in the Women’s National League (WNL) last season with Mattar Sailors, but now I’ve found the net in the WPL. I feel incredibly happy and proud of myself,” the young forward exclaimed.

“With our team already leading by a considerable margin, when Coach Daniel gave me the opportunity to play, I was determined to make an impact. I was hungry for that goal.”

Daniel added, “I’m not surprised (that Liyana scored) because she has excellent technique. Her teammates guide her so well, and it’s evident that she improves after each training session. I’m delighted that she got on the scoresheet.”

With the victory, the Sailors currently lead the WPL standings with 15 points, boasting a flawless start to the season with five wins out of five.

The Sailors now turn their attention to next Saturday (11 May), when they will face off against title challengers Still Aerion at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium.