Riptide Weekend Recap: tough rivalry match-ups in opening weekend
Last weekend the 2015 Vancouver Riptide stepped on the line together for the first time. This year’s team has new all-stars mixing in with a few favourite veterans from last year. However, as the first road trip weekend in California showed, the same rivalries remain.
Saturday April 11th: Vancouver Riptide vs San Francisco Flamethrowers
The first game of the Vancouver Riptide’s 2015 season was played at Laney College field in Oakland, in front of a spirited crowd.
In the pre-game huddle, Captain John Norris called for hard work and fearless offence, and we certainly saw plenty of that throughout the game. Both teams threw up big gainers, and the windy first half meant turnovers on both sides. The Riptide capitalized on their talent early, going up 4-2 with some great showings from rookies Dozzi and Bryson. Kevin Underhill pumped up the Riptide’s defensive line by dominating a point with both a layout D and a hand block. However, some unforced errors from the Riptide were quickly converted with deep strikes by the Flamethrowers, allowing San Francisco to gain a six point lead. Undaunted, the Riptide regrouped during a timeout call and proved they can also score with a smart, patient offence to finish the half. Halftime score: 10-15.
The Riptide came out after half against the Flamethrowers with the best quarter of ultimate they played all weekend. Captain Alex Davis inspired the team by pushing through a marathon of a point and transitioning from a textbook perfect layout D to initiating in the offensive drive. Andre Gailits and Richie Tam also stepped it up, each with an exciting defensive play of their own. After some great transitions on offensive, the 3rd Quarter finished with a score of 17-18 for the Flamethrowers, which meant the Riptide had just gone on a 7-2 run.
The fourth quarter was the most balanced of the game, and the O-lines on both teams traded points until a few Flamethrowers’ turnovers allowed the Riptide to go up a couple breaks, and lead the scoring for the first time in the game. With a 22-20 lead and only a few minutes remaining in the game, it looked good for the Riptide. However, the Flamethrowers never stopped fighting, and managed to push back and score a couple of defensive breaks of their own. With 40 seconds left on the clock, the score was 23-23 with the Riptide receiving. Our solid O-line managed to frantically escape the Flamethrowers defence and score, but it was a second too late, with the buzzer going off before the final throw went up. Therefore, the first game of the Riptide’s 2015 AUDL season went into overtime.
In the five minute overtime, both teams played with a new degree of intensity. However, the Flamethrowers proved to be more consistent as it came down to the wire. They went up 25-23 right away, but Riptide fought to regain the lead. Underhill had a monstrous effort in overtime, getting a run-through D and assisting both of the Riptide’s two goals. However, it wasn’t quite enough. With a minute remaining, the Flamethrowers were up 25-26 and receiving the disc – all they needed to do to win was maintain possession. Gagan Chatha managed to capitalize on an imperfect throw and bring down a D close to the Riptide’s endzone, but the clock seemed to run out as he did so. However, Underhill had called a time-out at the moment the disc touched the turf, meaning the Riptide had one last possession with 1.1 seconds remaining on the clock from 60 yards back. The only thing to throw was a hail-mary pass, and Underhill pulled out an impressive backhand considering the huge double team put on by the Flamethrowers. The pass, however, was incomplete and the final score remained 25-26 for the Flamethrowers. This was definitely an exciting first game for all the fans who were keeping up on Twitter!
Sunday April 12th: Vancouver Riptide vs San Jose Spiders
The second game of the season was against the 2014 AUDL champions, the San Jose Spiders.
It is always hard to come off a game as close and with as high a level of intensity as the Riptide’s game against San Fran: there is a certain amount of mental and physical recovery which is needed. But, in 12 short hours our boys were already on the road to San Jose to play the second game of the weekend. Sunday dawned clear skied and hot, with a bit of a breeze. With the exception of a few players who represented Canada at beach worlds in Dubai last month, most of the Riptide have not played ultimate in weather above 15 degrees since last summer. Regardless, they showed up ready to fight hard against last year’s AUDL champions.
The first quarter was back and forth, with both teams going on three point runs. The Spiders gained a 5-point lead early, which is hard to regain in games that competitive. However, the Riptide played some stellar offence of their own, finishing the first quarter down 7-10, very much still in the game. Near the end of the first quarter, offensive star Derek Fenton brought down an amazing catch, but was a casualty of the play with an injury to his hamstring. Considering the 31 points he played the night before, it was certain that the Riptide were going to miss his height and consistency on the O line. This did allow a few other players to step up, however.
For the remainder of the first half, the San Jose deep offensive proved difficult for the Riptide to contain. They slowly regained their 5-point lead, finishing the half with a score of 11-16 despite some excellent offensive plays by Chatha and Gailits in particular. Defensively, the Riptide did not let up, with Myles Sinclair leading our defensive line in blocks as well as often being the heart of the transition offence. Though some individual matchups definitely went our way, the long game appeared to be controlled by the Spiders overall throughout this quarter.
Once again, the Riptide played the strongest coming out of half. During the third quarter, it was clear that the chance to recuperate and regroup in the shade had made a difference to the Riptide’s gameplay. With far less unforced errors, the Riptide traded points with the Spiders for the entire third quarter. It was a bit of a shooting gallery, with the two teams scoring 21 points collectively over the course of 15 minutes. This made it a very exciting quarter of ultimate to watch, with amazing offensive plays from both sides. Richie Tam deserves mention for his speed and consistency on the D line, as well as for playing as if he was a foot and a half taller. The third quarter finished with the Spiders still solidly in the lead at 20-27, but the score for the quarter was 10-11, which is much more reflective of the intensity of the competition.
In the final quarter of the game, the Spiders managed to pull away again and solidify their lead. The crowd was certainly pumped up right until the final point, and the scrappy Riptide defence fought to make them work for it. However, the Spider’s victory was a decisive 26-32 in the end despite the continued effort by the Riptide.
Overall, there is plenty to be excited about from the 2015 Vancouver Riptide over the course of this gruelling road trip. This is a team able to fight back from deficits, unsurprising considering the contingent of Furious George club players which are now leading the team. There is also a large amount of raw talent, and players able to make gravity-defying plays. If they manage to capitalize on that talent and harness it in the form of consistency and offensive efficiency, we will have some serious contenders this season. Aside from all that, the Riptide are just so fun to watch in action.
On Saturday April 18th, the Riptide will be heading down to Seattle to face off against the Cascades at 730pm. This game will be televised, as it is the ESPN3 game of the week. It is bound to be exciting, and we hope to have some Vancouver fans make the trek down to Seattle with us and Ride with the ’Tide!