Riptide to Host San Jose Spiders on Saturday Night
By Scott Lewis
Last week’s showdown against the still-unbeaten San Francisco Flamethrowers may have been an important game for Vancouver, but so is this Saturday’s AUDL match-up at Swangard Stadium with the San Jose Spiders. The 2-2 Riptide need to win against the 1-3 Spiders to cement their hold on a Western Division playoff spot.
Not that you’ll get the Riptide to admit that…
“There is plenty of time for standings to change,” said Assistant Coach Matt Doyle. “We are aware of the standings, but are still focused on our internal team development.”
It was a lift for the Riptide to have veteran Andre Gailits back on the field last weekend after some early season injury and scheduling problems. According to him, where the teams currently stand in the league table is not the issue.
“The standings don’t really enter my thought process as I prepare for the next game. However, given the relatively short season and the fact that San Jose looks to be a strong team, we’re certainly not going to take them lightly and need to prepare and play our best this weekend.”
In what has become a disquieting trend, the Riptide have had trouble all season starting off halves on the front foot, particularly the second half, something the coaches are trying to address.
“The only game we had a good start in was the San Diego game,” said Doyle “otherwise it’s been an uphill battle. All our games have also had a bad third quarter, or at least a part of the quarter. We are working on what we need to do to come out ready to play, and it is something we’ll continue to focus on through the season.”
Gailits repeats a common theme we have heard from Riptide players and coaches so far this year, keeping the focus internal.
“I think we just need to focus on the fundamentals and systems that the coaches have put in place. During the bad stretches we seem to get away from the basics like stepping out when you throw and watching the disc into both your hands when you catch.”
If the playing conditions are good, based on San Jose’s track record this season you can expect an exciting high-scoring game. In the Spiders’ four games, they and their opponents between them have averaged 55 points. While first-place San Francisco was able to beat them by five and then seven points, the Spiders’ two games against Seattle, a win and a loss, were each decided by a single goal.
“We expect a similar game to the one against San Diego, featuring plenty of athleticism and a lot more hucks than we saw in last Saturday’s game against San Francisco,” said Doyle
“We have been working on some game specific strategy to account for San Jose’s strengths, but in the wake of last weekend’s loss, we won’t be prepping for this weekend’s opponent in as much detail as we would normally do. We’re focusing internally this week, trying to get our mojo back.”
One factor that will work in the Riptide’s favour is that San Jose will be playing on Friday night in Seattle. A similar situation applied when they hosted San Diego; and the Growlers just didn’t have the legs in the second half to overcome the early lead the Riptide had taken.
One player the Riptide are going to have to watch out for is Sean Ham, who has averaged almost seven goals a game this season for San Jose. The fulcrum of their offence, though, is 16-assist man Chuck Cao, whose 190 touches this season is a full 60 more than any of his teammates. No Spider has more than 5 Ds in 2016.
Reflecting their approach of not designating O-lines and D-lines, so far this year the Riptide have spread the scoring load around much more evenly. Gagan Chatha leads Vancouver with nine goals, but three of his teammates have eight and another three are close behind with seven. William Vu and Tim Tsang have staked their claim as the key disc handlers, leading the team with 18 and 15 assists respectively, while Morgan Hibbert remains well out in front with 10 Ds on the season.
The Riptide will be missing one of their regulars, Rumi Tejpar, who has moved to Toronto for the summer to train with Canada’s National Open team and will be suiting up for the Rush. At press time I was unable to verify a rumour tht he was traded for a bag of discs, though the Riptide’s Alex Davis has been heard to say that the Toronto Rush discs had come in really handy at practice.
You can buy tickets for the game against the Spiders, and for the rest of the Riptide’s upcoming home games at Swangard Stadium here.