Riptide Looking to Beat San Francisco on Saturday Night

By Scott Lewis

During last week’s Bay Area double-header, the Vancouver Riptide played seven good quarters and one stinker, but all their hard work netted them only losses against San Francisco FlameThrowers and San Jose Spiders and dropped their record to 3-4. This Saturday they get another crack at the still unbeaten Flamethrowers when they meet at Swangard Stadium for a highly anticipated AUDL tilt.

This should be the game of the season – great weather, a top-notch opponent, lots of attendees from the Flower Bowl tournament being held nearby, and a tantalizing preliminary game featuring two of the best women’s teams in the world, Seattle Riot and Vancouver Traffic

And there should be plenty of goals, as evidenced by the score when Vancouver lost to San Francisco by 30-27 last weekend in a game that included four of those good quarters. The game was tied as late as 23-23.

“When Morgan Hibbert threw the first goal of the weekend to Ben Burelle mere seconds into Saturday’s game, it set in motion a Bay Area shootout,” recalled Kevin Underhill. “The wind we had been expecting was non-existent so the were goals a-plenty.“

“The game was another stark example of the potency of the AUDL Western Division. Even a solid team performance by us was not enough to knock off the current number one seed.”

“Saturday’s performance, although a loss, was probably our best game of the year,” added Alex Davis “It was very close for the entire game, and the lead changed hands a number of times.”

The final lead change came with about 10 minutes to go in the final quarter when San Francisco scored to break the 23-23 tie and then added a break for a two-goal lead, putting the pressure on the Riptide to force a break of their own.

“In the ending minutes of the game,” said Davis “if we were going to steal back the lead, we had to play more aggressively on both O and D in order to cram as many opportunities as possible into a few minutes. But the Flamethrowers knew that they had to play conservatively and stretch out those last minutes to keep us at bay, and they did that well.

“Aggressive tactics can backfire, making them a calculated risk. In this case, we gave San Francisco an extra point instead of closing the gap. That happens sometimes.”

After that sterling effort against the FlameThrowers, the Riptide took the field only 19 hours later against the San Jose Spiders, but the results were not as pleasing, with the Riptide losing 27-17 thanks to yet another third quarter collapse in which they gave up six straight goals.

“Maybe the gnarly travel caught up to us, maybe it was just a reality of the back-to-back games, but the Riptide team that showed up on Sunday was not the same bunch as the night before,” commented Underhill. “The first half was littered with mistakes but the Riptide kept it close with phenomenal play from Gagan Chatha. Chatha and Ben Burelle fired up some of that 2015 U23 chemistry in the second half but it wasn’t enough to overcome the hole we had dug for ourselves in the third quarter.”

“It is very difficult to maintain focus in the third quarter,” added Davis. “Mental and execution errors tend to creep in, and in San Jose, fatigue and temperature visibly affected us. We simply have to keep training our focal endurance and ingraining habits that will survive when we’re psychologically on autopilot. We are working on that in practice.”

One player who had a Bay Area breakout was Riptide rookie Burrelle, who led the team with a total of nine goals over the weekend.

As Davis points out, Burelle, only 1.72 metres tall, is not your prototypical Ultimate scoring machine.

“Burelle easily gets overlooked by opposing defences because of his size. Like the Spiders’ Sean Ham, he draws match-ups that assume he’s a handler instead of a striker. Although he lacks the height advantage we usually expect in a striker, the Riptide have been working very hard these last two months on developing flat, low hucks, and that is the throw that enables Burelle to use his quickness in the lanes.”

“That surprise factor won’t last forever, and we expect defences to adapt, but if we can keep putting the disc out in front of him in space, Burelle’s closing speed will still give him the edge over his competition.”

Boosted by an expected large crowd, can the Riptide come up with the focused effort it will take to end the FlameThrower’s season-long winning streak?

“Last weekend, we successfully stuck to a game plan,” said Davis. “This weekend, we have to show that we can commit to a game plan again, on command. If we do that, a win is definitely within reach.”

Underhill cautions the Flamethrowers that their record means nothing going into this game

“You can put records aside. If you don’t have a good game against anyone in the Western division, you aren’t going to win.”

“The Riptide have to find the positives from Saturday’s shootout and move forward. In the AUDL’s short summer season, there’s no time to feel sorry for yourself. It’s back to the grind today and back on the field on Saturday for vengeance.”

Whatever the final score, it’s going to be a great night of Ultimate. Remember, one ticket gets you into both the Women’s Showcase Game and the Riptide game.

You can buy tickets for Saturday’s games and for the rest of the Riptide’s upcoming home games at Swangard Stadium here.

You can get more information about the Women’s Showcase Game here.

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