Final Home Game of the 2015 Season
Though the final home game of the 2015 AUDL season had no qualification significance, plenty of intangibles were on the line. After the blowout the day before, pride was no small factor, especially in front of a home crowd. Additionally, while elite ultimate was winding down for a few players, for the majority of the team the Riptide is part of a preseason equation. That equation hopefully adds up to Worlds qualification for Furious George at CUCs in August. Therefore, for many players, performing well for the Riptide meant proving to themselves they were capable of playing up to their potential.
Certain players who had been sitting deeply in the negative stats on Saturday set a personal goal to play the ‘perfect’ game- no throwaways or drops. AUDL stats can be quite punishing, as every single turnover must be attributed to a member of the team. Especially in the case of handlers, a perfect game requires a level of discipline and conservatism most players would have trouble executing, along with a bit of luck- you can never be the player relegated to throwing the buzzer-beating huck to a crowd at the end of each quarter. Additionally, like anything in ultimate, this stat includes a high degree of dependence on your teammates; it means all your receivers continued running to the disc, and nobody gave up on your hucks. It means there were no miscommunications on the field where you threw left as the dump went right, and that you always had an open player to throw to. If one of your handlers or main receivers has a perfect game, it means, in short, that your team is playing good ultimate. This was the kind of game the Riptide needed to play in order to beat their Seattle rival.
Vancouver opened the game on offence in the sweltering sun. It was a classic Vancouver O point, with big swings, give gos, and a bit of patience, allowing Bellavance to find McFadyen in the endzone and make it look easy. The D line, pumped, took the field with confidence. Disciplined handler defence forced a Seattle throwaway, and after the Riptide lost possession, the D line refused to give up. Leduc brought down the first D of the game with a burst of speed, and the D line got a second chance. Fenton, after a monstrous grab, put up a floaty huck to Alex Davis. When the D line captain scored, the sideline erupted with cheers. One break was not enough for Vancouver, however, and with a D by McFadyen, they proceeded to get another bringing the score to 3-0.
Seattle then began to find their legs, however, and score their O points. The remainder of the quarter was evenly matched, full of exciting plays as each O line scored their possessions. Sinclair had a strong sideline D in order to regain possession in one tightly contested point, and the philosopher’s duo of Tejpar and Tsang kept finding each other in the endzone. The quarter ended with a ‘time break’, where our O line was unable to score in under ten seconds, and Underhill was forced to put up one of those buzzer-beating uncompleted hucks mentioned earlier. Regardless, the Riptide was leading 6-4 to end the first quarter, a wildly different score than the 6-point deficit they had suffered on the previous day. The tone of the game had been set.
The Riptide opened the second quarter with a defensive break, a crowd- pleasing stunner from Sinclair to Fenton. A few points later, Seattle responded with two quick breaks of their own, their first of the game, to tie the game at 8s. Though the Riptide appeared to be playing their system well, Seattle is such a strong team and would overtake the Riptide easily if they were given the space to do so. An early 3 point lead means less in a game that can go to 30 than a standard game to 15, and Seattle was fighting hard. For the rest of the half, our offense was forced to play their best game in order to punch it in each point. In one point, Gailits made three massive grabs in a row, and the connection between Tejpar and Tsang was good for another couple points. The single turnover Vancouver suffered before half was in the final point, and with 5 seconds left on the clock Seattle called a timeout in an attempt to earn the lead on a break. However, the Riptide set up a strong mark on the thrower with Davis and Underhill ready to shut down the huck. Underhill was in the perfect positon, and managed to get a hand on the throw, regaining Riptide possession on the endzone line as time wound down. Quick thinking by Davis got the disc right back to Underhill for the score, and the half ended with a double happiness point for our captain.
In the second half, the Riptide did not lose their focus. Leduc had a massive point in the third quarter, with his second D of the game and a possession- saving grab. Seattle did not manage to overtake the Riptide in the third quarter, but kept tying up the game tied until 16-16. Back to back Ds by Anderson and Davis allowed the Riptide to pull away again with two breaks in a row, one off of a huck from Richie Tam, something the Riptide have certainly missed having this year. Seattle managed to punch in a final goal of the quarter, leaving less than ten seconds on the clock, and the third finished 20-18.
Alex Davis, clearly playing one of his best games, brought down a layout D to start the fourth quarter. The Riptide were determined to keep up the intensity right until the final second of their season. There was a moment in the fourth quarter, where Seattle had just managed to earn a break off of a dropped pull (there’s no stat button for that!), and the Riptide stumbled correspondingly, that it seemed like the final victory might escape us. However, Vancouver was not easily rattled for long. We followed up with a strategic time out on a D-line possession, working the disc up the field for a break of our own, widening the gap to 25-22. The final points of the game were exciting, as neither team stopped playing their best game. Wu had a highlight-reel worthy catch of a very deep huck from Sinclair in the dying minutes, scoring what was to be the final point of the Riptide’s 2015 season.
That elusive perfect game was played, by both Rumi Tejpar and Kevin Underhill, who also collectively accounted for 30% of the Riptides’ total completions. Underhill’s single turnover was a buzzer-beating huck, and Tejpar had none at all. This achievement is a testament to how well the entire team played.
The victory of 26-24 in front of a home crowd was a great way to end the Riptide’s stormy season. Their brilliance has come in waves, between long lulls and road trip collapses. It was good to see them play the game they can for one last time before putting away the blue and green in favour of the red and black. It will be exciting to see what happens in the AUDL playoff brackets in the upcoming weeks. Who to cheer for? Perhaps next year, it will be us.