Riptide get tangled in Spiders web
by Alannah Johnston
Last Saturday afternoon, the San Jose Spiders returned to Vancouver only two weeks after their last visit. In the interim, Vancouver had two weeks rest, with no games on their docket. San Jose, on the other hand, had spent each weekend playing closely contested matches, going 1-1 against the San Francisco Flamethrowers and the Los Angeles Aviators, respectively. At 8-2 for the season, San Jose was still sitting solidly at the top of the league, but no longer seemed untouchable. Vancouver was hoping to repeat their last performance, and earn a second win against last year’s champions.
San Jose brought a small travelling roster, as seems to be their style. However, the players to watch were all present, with Ashlin Joye, Simon Higgins, Beau Kittredge, and Kevin Smith all cleating up. The Riptide roster had a few changes from the previous game, due to injuries and other absences. However, as the team was warming up, they still looked like the strong, cohesive team that pulled out the victory two weeks back.
The game started with the Riptide on defense, and it was clear that San Jose planned on executing a much more seamless offense in this matchup. Despite hard-fought D from Vancouver forcing the Spiders to take a few additional throws, they worked the disc in for the first goal without any errors. The Riptide offense responded in kind, though Gagan Chatha was first called upon to earn the disc back after an O-line turn over. He brought down the D, and threw the goal to tie the game. The game continued like this for a bit, with the Riptide having to work just a bit harder than San Jose for their O points.
After San Jose earned their first break, they were able to grab hold of the momentum and run away with the score a bit at then end of the first quarter. Three breaks in a row put the Riptide down 4-8 to end the first quarter.
The Riptide offense opened the scoring in the second quarter with a beauty grab by Kevin Underhill in the endzone, and set a different tone for the next twelve minutes. Minutes later, an amazing lay-out D by Fred Lam surprised the Spiders, followed by excellent flow by the D line lead to Myles Sinclair hitting Lam in the endzone for the Riptide’s first break. Fred Lam had his best game of the season so far, leading the Riptide in Ds and forcing San Jose’s star receivers to work hard for the disc. The Kittredge- Lam matchup especially was exciting one, with Lam pushing Beau to use his top speed, and earning impressive plays of his own.
For the remainder of the first half, the Riptide defense continued to fight to put the Riptide back in the game. Determined to win out the half, D-line regulars like Malcom Bryson and Sinclair played their best game. Bryson earned two big Ds before the half was out, and Sinclair finished the job by throwing the assists. With 90 seconds before half, the Riptide was on offence and down 13-15. A miscommunication led to a Riptide throwaway on the endzone line, and San Jose capitalized on the opportunity, putting up a big huck to try and get another break before half. Chatha chased it down, however, and brought it down with a monstrous D. A quick flip to Rumi Tejpar allowed the Riptide to get one last shot off under the wire, but they were not able to convert. As the horn blew, our boys were still down by two.
The Riptide started the half with a break capitalizing on an unforced error from the Spiders, but that was the only error we were gable to utilize for the rest of the quarter. The Riptide offence only let one break go in the third quarter as well, as they were not able to recover from the shock of an uncharacteristic drop in the endzone by a trusted receiver. The rest of the quarter was point for point, and as a result, the third quarter ended with the same point differential. The Riptide were trailing 19-21, but still hoping to find the winning groove they had in the last matchup,
However, the Spiders had other ideas. While often the two teams seemed evenly matched, the Spiders had a few points in the fourth quarter that truly showed what they were capable of. A couple two or three pass huck plays for the score meant the Spiders were not having to work nearly as hard as the Riptide for their O points, allowing them to keep their star receivers on the field. The Riptide kept fighting until the end, despite being down by three with the minutes slipping by. Darren Wu got a notably massive D, as did Peter Yu. However, after a Riptide throwaway with two minutes left, the Spiders proved their skills by simply maintaining possession as the clock wound down to an anticlimactic but decisive victory.
With a final score of 23-26, this hotly contested West Coast rivalry matchup came to a close. The Spiders have now secured a spot in the playoffs, and the Riptide have a do-or-die weekend ahead of them. With games in San Diego on Saturday and LA on Sunday, it will be a tough road trip weekend for our team. However, if they play at the height of their game, the road to the AUDL playoffs is still within their reach.