Riptide fall to Seattle Cascades on the road
The Vancouver Riptide faced their second challenging double-header this past weekend. There were two chances for redemption, as Vancouver had suffered tough losses against both Seattle and San Jose in previous games. The Seattle Cascades were up first, with a game early Saturday evening in Seattle. Prior to the pull, the record between the two teams stood at 1-1 with each team having lost to their respective opponent on their home turf.
Seattle had just come off of a big win against the LA Aviators, but so had Vancouver. With the tight nature of the West division, both teams were considering this game an important one to win. Vancouver is struggling to find a way into the top half of the division, with a few close losses holding them back. Seattle is working to maintain their playoff bid, which is heavily contested in such a short season.
Under the shadow of the Space Needle, the game began in front of a young enthusiastic crowd. From the first pull, the competition was tight. Each team’s O-line pumped out point after point with smooth efficiency which left no room for a defensive opportunity.
A few points into the game, a huge collision in the air between Myles Sinclair, Derek Fenton and a couple of the Cascades left the Riptide squad a little rattled. Both Sinclair and Fenton left the field, and Sinclair would only manage a few more points before stepping out of the game due to injury. Regardless, the defense kept pushing for the crucial early break.
Malcolm Bryson, who had the game-saving defensive play last week against the Aviators, is a regular on the Riptide D line. Bryson proved height mismatches are not an issue for him by getting a finger on the disc to make the first big play of the game against the Cascades. With a bit of patience and a bit of luck after a miscalculated deep look, the Riptide’s D-line managed to convert the opportunity into the first break of the game.
However, Seattle managed to bring the game back on serve quickly, with a handblock and a huck that the Riptide O-line couldn’t catch up to. The score went back to even and remained that way until the end of the quarter. The final point before the buzzer was a nail biter, with the Riptide having just under sixty seconds to score. Despite the crunch, the line looked calm, with a few looping throws which used the width of the field between Lore, Gailits and Bellavance and helped the handlers eventually find Chatha open in the endzone for yet another blade with less than a second to spare.
Coming into the second quarter, on-field play began to look less crisp for the Riptide offense. With the game tied at sevens, the Riptide had a shaky offensive point with two unforced turnovers sandwiching a huge D by Tejpar. When the Cascades called a timeout to get their O-line on the field after the second turnover, it seemed like a blessing for the Riptide to have a chance to put fresh legs on the field. However, the D line was unable to convert the opportunity they earned, and Seattle ended up with their second break of the game.
As the first half drew to a close, the pace of the game got scrappier, and frustration with on-field officiating clearly began to get to the Vancouver players. Seattle stayed cooler, and capitalized on a couple poor decisions by the Riptide. After a couple back-to-back points, the half finished with the Riptide down by three, at 12-15. However, it was still a heavily contested game, with the Riptide expecting to claw their way back on the scoreboard in the second half.
In previous games, the third quarter has been the strongest one for the Riptide. The team has won more third quarters than games, but not this one. The Riptide didn’t just come out flat, they completely collapsed over the course of twelve minutes. A few good plays early which got pulled back by foul calls frustrated the team, and they found themselves unable to repeat the movement. Suddenly the offense stagnated, with little movement from the downfield cutters and poor decisions from the handlers creating a perfect storm of turnovers. Seattle also played stronger defense the more pumped up they got, beating the Riptide to every 50/50 pass. The Riptide called a timeout between points for the purpose of regrouping, almost unheard of in AUDL games where timeouts are generally a strategic play to get certain players on or off the field.
Five points passed before the Riptide got back on the scoreboard, with a goal by Kevin Underhill making it 13-20 for the Riptide.
As if coming out of a state of shock, certain players began to step it up to try and pull the Riptide out of the hole they found themselves in. Edward Guo began to make a few big plays, as a strong initiator on offence, and with a huge D on a cross-field hammer which would have almost certainly resulted in a breakside goal for Seattle. Tim Tsang, D-line all-star, made an impact whenever he made it on the line, and the statistics are not representative of his game play. Though he led the team in throwaways this game, these were mostly due to the high stall counts his cutters left him with.
This breakdown and split between O-line and D-line was most glaringly evident during some confusion and frustration around spending the final time out. It was called near the Cascade’s endzone line, in order for the O line to take a breather after a long, turnover-ridden point. When the disaster that was the third quarter finally finished, the score was 16-25, making the quarter itself 3-10 for the Cascades.
However, despite all this, Vancouver then proceeded to do something few teams could. They took the two minutes between quarters to move on from what had just happened and look forward. On the sideline, they set a goal to win the final quarter. They then proceeded to play with pride in their game which translated to discipline on the field for the first time since the first quarter.
A few big defensive plays pumped up the Riptide further. Brett Anderson intercepted a disc, seeming to come out of nowhere, but had to call himself off the field for an injury sub from a post-play collision. Regardless, his team pushed through and took advantage of the opportunity he gave them in order to earn their second break since half.
A beauty of a buzzer- beater from Underhill to Chatha for a final score was representative of the game play for the entire final quarter. Unable to make up the 9 point deficit in 12 minutes, the Riptide still managed to finish the game playing closer to what they are capable of. The score for the final quarter was 11-9 for the Riptide, making the game 27-34 for Seattle.
Few players had strong games, but Chatha was certainly the standout player in this difficult matchup. With an extraordinary 10 goals and 4 assists, it is clear that when times are tough he is a player who will attempt to carry the entire team on his back. Unfortunately, this was not a weight his shoulders could bear.
After this type of loss, it is the most challenging thing in the world to turn around, refocus, and face the next game with confidence. The following day, the Riptide were scheduled to play San Jose in Vancouver, and hosting the reigning champions is challenging at the best of times. However, the team was ready to take Saturday’s game as a lesson, and turn it into a productive mentality and tenacious gameplay the next day.