Rocky Road Trip for Riptide
By Scott Lewis
Photos by Jason Heh
Given the awful weather we have suffered through the last six months, it might have been a blessing for the Vancouver Riptide to start their AUDL season with two road games.
And given that the team had not had much of a chance to practice as they are trying not to overuse the many team members who have multiple commitments on the field right now, it is no surprise that they suffered a slow start, so maybe being on the road while ironing out the early season kinks was a double blessing.
The first game, in Seattle against the Cascades, began pretty evenly, with the teams splitting the first 10 points, but then came the first signs of trouble as Seattle parlayed several turnovers into three straight points and held that lead till 11-14. That’s when the wheels fell off for the Riptide.
“Seattle really started punishing us for turning the disc over in the second half,” said the Riptide’s Peter Yu. “We had been able to get most of our turnovers back in the first half but Seattle started to possess the disc more prudently in the second half and eventually wore us down.”
Part of the answer to what happened lies in the statistics. During this game, Seattle completed 291 passes with 12 throwaways, Vancouver 208 passes with 24 throwaways.
While the turnover numbers reflect a difference in execution between the teams, according to Yu the total number of passes marks a difference in strategy.
“Seattle was willing to throw a lot more passes to open up our defense; they would swing the disc from side to side multiple times within a point until they found defenders out of position. They were also a lot better at executing hard, crisp passes that would lead to subsequently easier passes. We had a rough time swinging the disc and would often float it up when doing so, allowing the other team to reset their position by the time we finally finished swinging the disc.”
Watch highlights of Game 1 here.
After absorbing a 29-18 beating in Seattle, the Riptide were hoping to do much better the next weekend when they traveled to Los Angeles to play the Aviators. They did indeed improve albeit not quite enough to pull out the win, in the end going down 18-21 in a back and forth affair.
“The whole game was a lot like two college teams slugging it out,” said Yu, who was a mainstay of the University of British Columbia squad during his university years.
“One team would play really well while the other would give the disc away multiple times, then vice versa, then switching again. We seemed to run out of gas physically near the end, lengthening our buffers on defense and getting burned on the mark by nice LA break throws.”
You can view highlights of this game here.
One interesting aspect of this game that reflects the increasingly global reach of te AUDL is that it marked the first time two Taiwanese players, one of them the Riptide’s Lin Yi-Min, have faced off in a game of professional ultimate. More details here.
Riptide veteran Brendan Wong, who broke all the scoring records in the now-defunct rival league MLU a few years ago before being slowed by injuries the past two seasons, is healthy again, and it shows. While as usual Morgan Hibbert is way out in front in playing time after two games, Wong leads the Riptide in goals with eight and plus/minus at +11. Will Vu is leading the team in passes completed but also throwaways, while Yu and returning veteran Toly Vasilyev have the most assists so far with six apiece.
So how is the team feeling about themselves after an 0-2 start? Better than you might expect…
“Losing sucks, no one likes it,” said the Riptide’s Ted Chu, better known as Ted LC. “That said, I think the team morale is still pretty good. We have a good team and we still have plenty of belief in what we can do.”
“We understand it’s early, and we haven’t really had our full top end of the roster show up all together yet,” added Yu. “It doesn’t make our two early losses less frustrating but there should be light at the end of the tunnel.”
We’ll find out whether it is actually the end of the tunnel or the proverbial oncoming train next Saturday at 6 p.m. when the Riptide get a chance to avenge their season-opening lopsided loss when they host the Seattle Cascades at Swangard Stadium. You can buy tickets here.