Home opener provides Riptide chance to pull plug on Cascades

Home opener against Seattle graphic

by Spencer Luyben


The Riptide intend to repeat the result in their home opener against their most recent opponent, the Seattle Cascades who they beat 21-20 in an instant classic at the conclusion of Week 2.


Vancouver was winless heading into Seattle, and surely morale was shaky against their undefeated opposition who boasted top scorers in goals, assists and Ds. However, Vancouver’s 0-2 record was astonishingly deceiving, as they also featured top scorers in the same categories heading into their second game in Week 2.


In what started as a display of possession trading, the game transformed into a nail-biting affair that hardly saw a lead greater than two for either side.


After Darren Wu registered two goals and an assist in three consecutive offensive drives at the beginning of the second half, the momentum followed. The Riptide patiently advanced upfield with the disc through the last two minutes of the game, and scored with an unbelievable two seconds left to go ahead by one.


So it’s safe to say these teams are pretty familiar with each other. But it doesn’t end there.


Many players from both sides had gone up against and played with each other at the club level on the west coast for Vancouver’s open club team, Furious George or Seattle’s Sockeye.


Although the Riptide head into their second date with the 2-1 Cascades with a 1-2 record, from what was learned in Week 2, the stats might be lying as Vancouver looks to be a better on-paper team than their rival.


It’s true that the league lead in goals is held by the Cascade’s Donnie Clark, who has been on fire dropping 17 goals in three games with a plus-19 rating. But Vancouver’s Gagan Chatha is nipping at Clark’s heels in second place with 15, and has also banked five assists to go along with an impressive offensive resume.


And it doesn’t end there. Darren Wu is having a career-defining year so far, and employs maybe the most interesting stat the Riptide have to offer: Over 20 per cent of his catches are goals.


Wu’s incredible performance to jump-start the stagnant Riptide offense in Week 2 garnered much-deserved attention and his majestic bid earned him “catch of the game.” His 10 goals in three games is good enough to give him the tie for seventh in the league.


And so the list continues…


Kevin Underhill has proven to be an absolute beast for Vancouver. His 14 assists solidifies him as the league leader going into Week 3, two ahead of the next in line.


He’s at 100 per cent catching through 112 passes caught, is a remarkable plus-20 on a team operating under a losing record, and has seven goals and three Ds already. Basically, he’s among the top 10 in every major statistical AUDL category.


Joel Bellavance and Andre Gailits have also transitioned smoothly into the 2015 season and both have proven themselves to be more than capable handlers.


Bellavance sits among the league leaders in completions with 117 through three games, and also has 12 assists in the books already.


Gailits has demonstrated a flair for defense and knack for finding the right guy. He’s hooked up with different players for each one of his five assists and has also potted nine goals to go along with his five Ds.


The Riptide appear to have the edge in their home opening rematch against the Cascades, which exists not only in the numbers, but more importantly, the results of Week 2.


The first pull of the home opener is set to take off this Saturday at 6 p.m. at Swanguard Stadium.




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