Riptide takes on the Seattle Raptors
On Saturday night, the Seattle Raptors came up to Vancouver to play their first game at the Riptide’s home opener. Nobody knew quite what to expect, as this is Seattle’s first year in the AUDL. A few of their players are familiar from the college scene and Voodoo, Seattle’s successful second-tier team, but it was hard to predict what kind of squad they would produce. With the crowd count just under 400 despite the cold and rainy conditions, both teams were pumped and ready to come out strong as the game started.
Right away the Riptide’s chemistry was evident. A couple key players have had a lot of experience playing together, and coach Tim Lavis used that strength by keeping old friends together on the line. Notably, handling duo Kevin Lore and Ryan Lee have been throwing to star receiver Derek Fenton since they started learning to play together over eight years ago. Graham Landon, Riptide Captain and previous captain of Blackfish, often kept Blackfish vet Brian Baker with him on the D-line. Perhaps the most exciting combination of the night, however, was the young, fast trio of Darren Wu, Will Vu, and Edward Guo. Guo was the surprise star of the game, blowing away the competition with his speed and consistency. A couple textbook-perfect bids in the endzone made him the team leader for goals, and his big under gainers were a significant part of Riptide’s successful O-line.
The game started out tight and exciting, with some solid offense from both teams taking the scoreboard up to 6-5 at the end of the first quarter. Riptide pulled away a bit as the first half came to a close, with some brilliant defensive plays by Graham Landon and an impressive high-altitude bid by Lavis, which helped the boys pick up a couple breaks. Our handlers played a consistent game, especially fan favorite Kevin Lore, who had a stellar record of only one significant turnover despite 40 touches on the disc. The Raptors pulled out a buzzer-beater just before halftime, but Riptide held the lead at 12-10.
The crowd got a little rowdy at halftime fighting for t-shirts tossed into the stands by Traffic Ultimate ladies, who were out selling 50-50 tickets as a fundraiser for their upcoming club season. Energy was high in the stadium, with drums and horns and home-made signs peppering the crowd. The food truck was a hit, and with the cold weather I admit I saw just as many hot chocolates as beers.
Whatever Tim, Gnarlee and Landon said at halftime was exactly what the Riptide needed to hear, because they stepped back on the field and produced some decisive points, pulling away from the Raptors. The Raptors countered by trying to throw on a junk zone, but Riptide shredded it with confidence, giving Fenton the chance to throw his trademark ‘stunner’, a cross-field 40 yard hammer to Ryan Sun for the score. The crowd loved it, and a proud ‘stunner!’ poster was spotted in the stands. Handler Ryan Lee got on the scoreboard with crowd-pleasing catch, and one of the most exciting plays of the game was beauty bid by Darren Wu, off a throw from Lavis which showed he clearly trusts the young receiver. Seattle had some solid O points as well, but Riptide managed to get the disc back with a couple important Ds, with ‘Pacho’ Mogollon and Landon both leading the Riptide in blocks, and Richie Tam a close third.
Riptide finished strong, winning their first home game 24-19. I don’t think the crowd even noticed the rain by the end. Swangard Stadium, previous home of Vancouver Whitecaps Soccer, was a great venue, with an excellent grass field instead of turf which the teams were excited to play on. After the game finished, it seemed like half the fans stuck around to cheer their team off the field. Riptide is now 3-0, and will face the biggest test of their season thus far next weekend when they host the San Francisco Flamethrowers for a Sunday afternoon game at 1pm. It should be exciting, so come on out and Ride the Wave!