Hosting Aviators, Riptide hope to "turn the tide"
by Spencer Luyben
In what’s been a slow start to the season, the Riptide are aiming to climb out of their 1-4 hole when they play host to the Los Angeles Aviators, Saturday.
But it hasn’t been due to lack of effort.
The Riptide have been a party to a series of nail-biters and close games (the worst they’ve lost is by six to a behemoth San Jose Spiders squad) and their offensive and defensive production is without lacking in their potencies.
They score roughly 25 points per game, which is at or above league average, and give up under 30. Their offensive and defensive lines have both generated eye-popping plays and sound technical efficiencies that prove they belong to a higher bracket of the AUDL than they’re in now.
But what’s really been the problem is their defensive execution.
Although Kevin Underhill has been playing some unbelievable D lately, the rest of the team could use some refinements.
No player (other than Underhill) has recorded more than six Ds this season, and the list of players with either one D or zero is staggering. It seems to be the same cast of characters carrying the defensive load for the team, and that needs to change for a chance at success.
In terms of individual stats, the team parades a collection of names within the AUDL leaderboards.
Cutter Gagan Chatha still sits among the top 10 in goals at the number six spot with 24 in five games. His name has been featured on that list all season, and the danger he instills in defensive lines is both consistent and remarkable.
Fan-favourite Kevin Underhill has also made a name for himself as an intimidating force in the AUDL. The young handler is an artist with the disc, sculpting the field with precision and regularly unveiling masterpieces. His 23 assists is good for fifth in the league, and he’s claimed the fourth spot in completions with 238, both through five games.
Their upcoming opponent, the LA Aviators, also have some strong players to boast.
The Riptide will need to keep their eye on the speedy Mark Elbogen, who has potted 14 goals this year, and precision-thrower Tyler Bacon who’s racked up 13 assists.
And LA seems to be rolling.
Although they sit in fourth in the West at 2-2, the Aviators have asserted a dominant behaviour in their two wins and were only narrowly surpassed by the undefeated San Jose Spiders by a score of 20-19.
In what will likely be a gripping affair, the Riptide are undoubtedly looking to avenge their 1-4 record throughout the rest of the season and hope to do so this weekend against a strong team in the West.
The home game will start at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 16 at Swangard Stadium.