Riptide Prepared for Final 2015 Home Game
What a year.
After the emotional rollercoaster that was the 2015 season, the Riptide are set to conclude it with a home-and-home series against the Seattle Cascades, Saturday and Sunday.
Just like two weeks ago against San Francisco, Vancouver will again be positioned to play the spoiler if they can sweep their weekend opponents, and San Francisco and San Diego can win out the rest of their seasons.
It’s bittersweet, but it’s better than some other situations in the AUDL…
The Riptide have had to battle through the trenches against tenacious divisional opponents all season, including three squads from an Ultimate hotbed in the Bay Area in the San Francisco FlameThrowers, the San Diego Growlers and the Los Angeles Aviators.
Before the onset of the 2015 season, four of the six West teams were featured within the AUDL’s top 10 rankings, and all six were within the top half of the league.
And it played out that way.
Even the 2014 champion San Jose Spiders managed three losses this year – which is saying a lot given their depth of talent and breadth of available offense options to adapt to an array of defensive looks.
But to dominate the West, you need to practice sound defending because each team has a steady supply of offensive weapons; Points will be scored, but it’s how those points are limited is what will determine the victor at the end of the day.
For the Riptide, defending was an issue all season, giving up an average of 27 goals per game. But they weren’t alone.
The West division’s overall defensive ratings were well-below the league averages across the remaining AUDL divisions, and the parity was much higher. The separation between the top and bottom teams in the West in regards to defensive efficiency was a fifth of a point, whereas in the East it was closer to a half of a point.
What seems like a minimal difference is actually a world of it. Over the course of a season, a fifth of a point will create a tighter race between teams within that division that the half-point difference in the East.
Ultimately, it comes down to a much smaller margin for error in the West, and the Riptide were simply unlucky enough to be the team that got the short end of the stick this year.
Individually there isn’t a single player on Vancouver that sports a minus rating, they’re all within the plus side, which is a staggering statistic given their team plus/minus is at minus-26 on the year.
Towering cutter Gagan Chatha had a tremendous offensive year, totalling a remarkable 48 goals with two games left on the schedule and currently sits at fifth in the AUDL goal leaderboard, as well as ninth in plus/minus at plus-66. His ability to adjust his body mid-jump and his instinct for knowing where the disc will land were in the spotlight all season.
Kevin Underhill and Joel Bellavance also had fantastic statistical seasons that can serve as applications toward AUDL all-star status – if they aren’t there already.
Underhill is fifth in the league in completions with 506, and seventh in assists with 47. Bellavance is fifth in assists with 49, and ninth in completions with 465 to round out one of the best – if not the best – handler corps in the AUDL. Both players have elite-level vision on the field and their grace with the disc perfectly complements their finesse and precision-heavy playing styles.
And all three players have strong track records against the Cascades, which makes the pair of games this weekend so much more enticing.
They’ll be heading to Seattle on Saturday, and will be returning the next day for their final game at Swangard in 2015. The pull is set for 1 p.m. for what will likely be a lively and exciting atmosphere as the Riptide hope to end their season on a positive note.