Riptide Cruise to Win Over Growlers
By Eric Wilkins
Photos by Jeff Bell
It was another night, another win for the Vancouver Riptide when the San Diego Growlers paid a visit to Swangard Stadium on Saturday for the first match-up between the teams of this AUDL season. Even with some familiar faces missing for Team Canada duty, the Riptide capably handled their American visitors, taking the game 27-19.
“Run ‘em hard.”
Head Coach Tasia Balding made sure her squad was well aware of the plan going into Saturday night’s tilt, and if the scoreboard at the end of the evening was any indicator, they got the message.
Vancouver opened the scoring early, only 19 seconds in, when a Tim Tsang flick found Edward Guo, and that set the script; San Diego would never hold a lead in the game. But while Vancouver was comfortably in control for almost the entire match, there was a distinctly different feel from the goalfest against Seattle in the Riptide’s last game three weeks ago. The home opener had been punctuated by non-stop long hucks and quick scores, but in defeating the Growlers, the Riptide employed a steadier, but still effective, offense as they worked to shut down the opposition’s deep threat.
“Before the game we were talking a lot about moving the disc quickly and anticipating offensively,” said Balding. “Also, defensively we knew that San Diego likes to huck and have great long throws, so we focused a lot on how we could affect that.”
There was one point in the game where things could have gone in a different direction. As the first quarter wound down into its final three minutes, Vancouver was leading 6-3, but a Growler goal cut it to a two-point lead. After forcing a turn, San Diego eventually found themselves on the edge of the Vancouver end-zone with the disc in their hands, very much in reach of a tight score heading into the second quarter, but the Riptide foiled those plans. Some strong defense forced a desperation throwaway and Jordan Dhillon later capped off the point with a Vancouver score. Instead of clinging to a 6-5 lead, the Riptide were sitting pretty at 7-4.
A low-scoring second frame left the teams heading into halftime with Vancouver up 12-7. But what the quarter lacked in production, it made up for it in highlights: William Vu and Darren Wu both unleashed crowd-pleasing scoobers during the action for emphatic goals.
Up five, the Riptide could afford to play it safe as the teams came out after halftime. A 6-6 third quarter meant that the game was at 18-13 as the final frame started, and that was when the squads opened up a bit. The highest-scoring quarter was still tame by the previous game’s standards, but saw Vancouver extend its lead to eight: for a final score of 27-19.
“I’m really happy with the way the whole squad performed, absolutely,” said Balding. “I think we did an excellent job of executing our game plan because they had played a game last night, and of trying to take advantage of what we could.”
As to early season chemistry, Balding was equally pleased.
“A lot of the guys have played together over the years on various teams here and there, so we’re trying to make little packages of people who are familiar with each other on the field and build from there. It’s going really well.”
Dhillon and Guo paced the Riptide with four goals apiece, Tsang and Vu tied for the assist lead with six, and Peter Yu recorded three Ds and set an aggressive tone on defense in his first action of the season after returning from duty with his university team.
In what promises to be a topnotch match, the Riptide (2-1) will next take on the undefeated San Francisco FlameThrowers (6-0) on Saturday May 14 at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria, while the Growlers (1-6) will head to Los Angeles to take on the Aviators in two weeks’ time.
You can buy tickets for the game in Victoria, and for the rest of the Riptide’s upcoming home games at Swangard Stadium here.