Riptide Pull Off a Close Win over San Jose
Story by Paul Wang
Photos by Kurtis Stewart
On Saturday night the Vancouver Riptide and San Jose Spiders met for the first time this AUDL season for an enjoyable evening at the office, also known as Swangard Stadium. The Riptide were able to take home the win 22-20 against the now 1-5 Spiders, improving their own season record to 3-2 and strengthening their hold on a West Division playoff spot.
In the first quarter, the teams traded goals back and forth, the Riptide scoring theirs via short quick passes, mostly from William Vu and Anatoly Vasilyev, the Spiders keeping pace with precise deep shots. With ten seconds left on the clock, the Riptide attempted to set up a quick deep shot of their own, but an overly hasty throw resulted in a turnover, allowing the Spiders to score as time ran out to finish the quarter leading 6-5.
The second quarter was filled with shifts in momentum. The Riptide started on offense with a huge huck from Vu to Darren Wu, setting the right tone for the next two points. Consistent undercuts from Tim Tsang and Brayden Gee helped the Riptide push their lead to 10-8. Notably, Gee caught a crowd-shocking sky from Vasilyez near the end of the quarter. With only 30 seconds left, Vancouver called a timeout in hopes of a buzzer beater. but the final throw went out the back of the end zone, concluding the half at 12-11 for the Riptide, leaving them ruing missed opportunities at the end of the first and second quarters.
Following the halftime show, an intercepted handler swing early in the third quarter shifted the momentum in Vancouver’s favour, alowing them to take a clear lead for the first time this game. Gee was able to get another huge sky, creating the biggest lead of the game at 17-13. For the next few minutes, both Vancouver and San Jose’s offenses began to struggle with completions and conversions, resulting in a 17-14 lead for Vancouver with 12 minutes left in the game.
During the final quarter, the Riptide’s will to win seemed to waver as the game approached its final minutes. Vancouver players dropped some easy passes, allowing San Jose to capitalize by scoring two breaks to bring the score to a narrow 20-18 with less than six minutes remaining on the clock. But then Vasilyez took on a role that has benefited the Riptide all season., patiently swinging the disc back and forth to re-establish confidence in the offense. The teams traded points until time ran out, resulting in another home win for the Riptide and a disappointing 0-2 weekend for the Spiders, who had lost the previous night in Seattle.
“From the beginning,” said Brayden Gee “it seemed like the whole team was just a step late on our movements and decisions. Maybe it was the wind or maybe we just had a slow start, but everyone had a few mental lapses at times. But as the game progressed we used some new refocusing techniques we learned over the week to reset ourselves and eventually got back into the groove. San Jose did a good job keeping the game close, and both teams fought hard for each momentum swing. The team is just glad that we squeaked out the win, even if it wasn’t a blowout.”
This season, the San Jose Spiders lost many of their key players to other AUDL teams, chiefly the San Francisco FlameThrowers and the Dallas Roughnecks, which by no coincidence are rated the top two favorites to win the playoffs. With both 2015 goals and defensive leader Beau Kittredge and assist leader Marcelo Sanchez gone this season, the Spiders are having a tough time keeping a positive record. Regardless, players like Justin Norden and Ethan Falat, who won the best player award, stood out and gave Vancouver a run for its money.
“This is my rookie year on the Riptide,” said Gee “so I didn’t get the opportunity to play against San Jose when they were dominating the West Division. Even though they might not have the greatest record so far, they are still a very good team. I think they are still trying to build team chemistry, just like we are, and I’m sure as the season goes on, both teams will be better and will be able to deliver more spectacular games for the fans.”
Throughout his first five games with the Riptide, William Vu has confidently established himself as a core handler and consistent assist maker. After this game against San Jose, he has a total of 21 assists, far more than any of his teammates. He and Vailyev have carved themselves important roles on this team, becoming the go-to handlers, Vu when the team needs a goal and Vasilyev when the offense need to re-establish its flow.
The Riptide really spread the scoring around this game, with no fewer than seven players having two goals apiece, while Vasilyev led the team with 31 completions and five assists with Vu close behind with 25 and three. Morgan Hibbert and Fred Lam both had four Ds, with Lam’s +5 rating was just behind Tim Tsang’s team-leading +6.
The Riptide will play a important doubleheader in the Bay Area, next weekend, hoping to upset the 7-0 Flame Throwers (7-0) on Saturday and then playing a return match against the Spiders in San Jose on Sunday.
On the following weekend, Vancouver will play its fifth home game on Saturday, June 4th, at 6 p.m when the FlameThrowers come to town. You can buy tickets for this game and for the rest of the Riptide’s upcoming home games at Swangard Stadium here.