Riptide End Cascades’ Winning Streak
By Eric Wilkins
Photos by Jeff Bell
The Vancouver Riptide (5-4) were coming off a huge win over the division-leading San Francisco FlameThrowers, ending their eight-game winning streak, when the Seattle Cascades (8-4) rolled into Swangard Stadium looking to continue a seven-game winning streak of their own. Head Coach Tasia Balding’s crew had other plans though, dropping the Cascades with a 27-24 win.
Saturday in Vancouver was, for the most part, a very nondescript day. Scattered showers and periods of dreary cloud cover dominated the day before sunshine finally broke through during the game. It was much the same for the Vancouver Riptide as they continued their giant-slaying ways by dispatching the Seattle Cascades.
Fresh off the thrilling victory over the FlameThrowers, quite possibly the best game so far this AUDL season, the Riptide were ready to take down another top team.
“The win last week was great for everybody, giving us a lot of confidence this week at practice,” said Balding. “It does a lot for such a young team to build momentum, which is super important to have going into the end of the season. Sometimes it’s easy to lull a bit after you get a big, emotional win, so it was nice to see the guys rise to the occasion.”
While the game against the FlameThrowers was essentially a non-stop highlight reel, Vancouver turned in a much more workmanlike effort against Seattle, proving that this young team is about more than just flash and dash. The Riptide took to the field with a disciplined approach and never really allowed themselves to get out of sync.
“I think one thing we did better than other night was our completion ratios,” said Balding “We didn’t really give them [Seattle] a chance — no free shots — and made them work for anything they got.”
The Riptide opened the scoring account for the day when Andre Gailits hauled in a Myles Sinclair toss only 43 seconds in. Seattle responded 29 seconds later with a goal of their own, and the pace for the game was set. The story of the game was primarily that there wasn’t one. There were no massive leads, no stretches of poor play, and precious few mishaps, just two teams going at it hard and grinding it out.
“Making every last second count” may as well have been the game’s mantra. As time wound down on the first quarter, the Cascades were leading the Riptide 7-6 and trying to hit the first break to take a two-point lead, but a pair of Ds by Kevin Greer and Trevor Knechtel disrupted that plan, and Fred Lam was delighted to receive a delivery from Malcolm Bryson to tie things up with no time left on the clock.
The second quarter was very much the same story. Save for a spectacular layout grab from Gagan Chatha less than a minute into the frame, it was mostly a tough 12 minutes characterized by hard running. Seattle did manage to turn the tables on Vancouver’s first quarter finish, squeezing in a final goal with only 1.6 seconds remaining to head into the half up 14-12.
Notably, after the half time break there was nary a whiff of the third quarter collapses which had plagued the Riptide all season. Indeed, when they scored the 14-13 point after a long sequence of short, controlled passing, it gave the team a noticeable lift in confidence.
But if there was ever a moment when the Riptide’s mettle was truly tested, it came with five minutes left in the quarter when they did give Seattle a free shot. With the score tied at 18-18, Vancouver committed the ultimate momentum killer: a dropped pull. The Cascades quickly capitalized on the mistake and then scored a break on the next point, but the Riptide snatched the momentum back when Kevin Lore found Jordan Dhillon to cut the advantage to one before a Sinclair-Bryson connection tied it up with only 3.4 seconds left.
This seemed to light a fire under the Riptide, and in the fourth quarter they took advantage of a longer bench by amping up the defensive intensity, just as they had done during the win over San Francisco. It’s not too often you a going to limit a potent offense like Seattle’s to four point in a quarter, but the Riptide basically ran them into the ground on the way to the 27-24 victory.
“Today we came out super loose and played our game again. And when we play our game, no one can stop us,” said Chatha. ”
The fourth quarter had that attribute on full display. Vancouver didn’t change a thing, just kept pushing, kept pressing, kept relentlessly taking it to the Cascades. And when the final few seconds ticked off the scoreboard, the Riptide had put themselves in the driver’s seat for capturing the final playoff spot in the AUDL’s West Division..
While some of the players were decidedly jubilant about the squad’s playoff hopes with only a few games left on the schedule, Balding was keeping a level head.
“You’ve got to win every game.”
If the 5-4 Riptide do manage to win every game the rest of the way, or even go 4-1, they will have a decent chance of catching the 8-4 Cascades for second, winning the right to host a playoff game. But first, they need to concentrate on fending off the 4-5 LA Aviators and the 4-6 San Jose Spiders. Those three remaining games against the Aviators loom ever larger.
Malcolm Bryson had his best game of the season for the Riptide, leading them with a plus/minus rating of +8, 33 points played, and seven assists, while Sinclair chipped in with five of the latter. Andre Gailits showed he is fully recovered from his early season injury problems by leading Vancouver with six goals. Fred Lam didn’t make much of an impression on the stats sheet other than being way out in front with 33 minutes played, but he was a vital cog in the defensive stand the Riptide made in the last quarter.
Vancouver heads out on the road this weekend for a Saturday night/Sunday afternoon doubleheader against the LA Aviators and the 1-8 San Diego Growlers before returning to Swangard for their final home game of the season against the Aviators on June 25th.
You can buy tickets for the June 25th game at Swangard Stadium here.