Riptide go up against best in West in Week 7

by Spencer Luyben


“What a game.”


That was the sentiment heard echoing the halls of Swangard Stadium after the Riptide’s edge-of-the-seat Week 6 win at home over the Los Angeles Aviators.


After struggling to find wins despite solid play on both offense and defense, the determination of the Riptide players finally paid off as they persevered through a tight game and tied it up to force overtime within the final 20 seconds after a deep huck was caught in the Aviators’ end zone by none other than Gagan Chatha.


It’s no surprise that the play of Gagan Chatha, Kevin Underhill and Darren Wu has been a guiding light for a Vancouver team travelling rough waters, but a few players have consistently performed under the league’s radar.


One of them is Edward Guo, who’s catalogued 16 goals, 9 assists and a D this season already. Guo’s recorded at least two goals in each of the four games he’s suited up for this year, and has quickened his offensive pace after netting six in his two most recent games.


Two more offensive standouts have been found in Andre Gailits and Derek Fenton.


Gailits has produced 11 goals, nine assists and five Ds this season and has proved himself as a trustworthy player in any situation on the field.


Derek Fenton’s been walking a similar path, with 17 goals and 10 assists in 2015, and rounds out an impressive offensive roster that seemed to be snake-bitten at the start of the season.


Helping defensive wunderkind Kevin Underhill is Alex Davis who has been another quiet performer for the Riptide D-line. His seven Ds are second best on the team and has a surprising plus-7 rating on a team with a losing record.


Fred Lam has also made his mark on nearly every game played this season. With three Ds to his name, his passing percentage sits at a perfect 100 per cent through three games played, which ties him with Connor McFadyen and Josh Tan for the team lead.


After a whirlwind Week 6 performance wherein the Riptide clung on for a win against a pressure-heavy Aviators team, Vancouver’s hope is that the momentum will carry over to their matchup against the West’s best two teams in the Seattle Cascades and San Jose Spiders this weekend.


Their first game will be in Seattle where they won by a 1-point margin a few weeks back. Seattle returned the favour when they visited Vancouver the next week, handing the Riptide a loss at home and evening up the season series at 1-1.


Saturday’s game serves as the rubber match between the two West division squads, and the Riptide will likely be putting it all on the field to grab that season series win and build up momentum for their game in what’s been an AUDL graveyard the next day in San Jose.


The Spiders have been rolling heavy and hard in 2015, remaining undefeated through seven games and sit at the top spot in the AUDL power-rankings.


The 2014 AUDL Champions will likely rush the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex field (the lone game the Riptide will play away from Swangard Stadium this year) with an expectation for a win.


But the momentum the Riptide are able to gain through their win last weekend and into Seattle on Saturday may provide the coastal crew the edge they need to take down the AUDL’s best team.


The Riptide head into Seattle on May 23 for a 7 p.m. game time, and will host San Jose at 4 p.m. on May 24 at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex.


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