Riptide Win One Against the Growlers
by Kaiz Bhatia
Photos by Jeff Bell
It’s a win!
The Vancouver Riptide (1-6) notched their first victory of the 2017 AUDL season in an overtime thriller against the San Diego Growlers (1-5). Overcoming a sloppy first quarter, the Riptide were able to fight their way back in the second and went one for one with the Growlers all the way to the end.
The first quarter began with a huge sky in double coverage by the Riptide’s Peter Galbraith on the second point of the game. At first the game was played very conservatively with both teams holding their offensive possessions until, towards the end of the quarter, a series of unforced drops, throws into poaching defenders, and errant throws from the Riptide allowed the Growlers to score three breaks, leaving the ‘Tide down 7-4 going into the second frame.
As in the first quarter, the early moments of the second quarter were played conservatively by both teams. With the score at 11-9 in favour of San Diego, an unforced drop by a Growlers player allowed Brendan Wong to find Patrick Church in the end zone with a cross-field hammer for the first Riptide break. The break train would not stop there. Terrific defensive pressure from the Riptide and even better offense from the D-line, which included a monstrous grab from William Vu in triple coverage, allowed the ‘Tide to score three more consecutive breaks to close out the half leading 13-12, the first time they had led at the half all season.
The second half began with Fred Lam climbing the ladder to bring down a huck from Tim Tsang before dishing it to Peter Galbraith for the score. However, the unforced errors on offense that have plagued the Riptide all season came back to bite them in the third quarter. Throwaways and throws into poaches allowed the Growlers to score three consecutive breaks and regain the lead. The Tide were able to get one of those breaks back at the end of the quarter with Morgan Hibbert connecting with Yi-Min Lin after the Growlers had been stalled out. At the end of the third, the Growlers led the Riptide 19-17 after taking the quarter 7-4.
To win the game, Vancouver needed to get those third quarter breaks back, and that’s exactly what they did. Early in the frame, Alex Davis exploded for a layout block which ultimately allowed the ‘Tide to cut the margin to one. With the game tied at 22s, the Riptide’s Ty Barbieri rose to the occasion, quite literally, by skying the pack for a terrific block which led to a break and gave the Riptide a one goal lead with less than five minutes on the clock. The teams traded scores to close out the quarter, an at the end of 48 minutes the scoreboard read 24-24.
This could mean only meant one thing: OVERTIME!
Given that each overtime period is only five minutes long, to pull out a win a team has to avoid turning over the disc, something both teams managed early in the frame. Then, with time starting to run out and San Diego ahead 26-25, a throwaway from Vu gave the Growlers an opportunity to go up by two with less than two minutes to play. Out of the subsequent San Diego timeout, Peter Yu, famous for his shutdown handler defense, was able to get a crucial block, and the ‘Tide worked their way near the Growlers’ end zone with the disc in the hands of Tsang, who was able to connect with Brayden Gee to tie the game once again, 26-26.
With 30 seconds remaining in overtime, the Growlers received the Riptide pull and tried to nurse the disc around the field to set up a late score to win the game. Fortunately for Vancouver, a Growler drop on a reset pass gave the Riptide the disc with seven seconds left, and a timeout was called from the Riptide sideline. Out of the timeout Tsang released a low huck that Vu somehow managed to catch in front of his defender just outside the end zone. With less than a second left, Vu dropped a left handed scoober to the other side of the field finding an open Hibbert to close out the game, with the final score Vancouver 27 San Diego 26.
Tim Tsang was once again on fire for the Riptide, finishing the game with a goal and six assists, while Patrick Church had a breakout game, registering five goals and two blocks. Standouts for San Diego included Travis Dunn, Jesse Cohen, Casey Wu, and Hunter Corbett.
Morgan Hibbert was very happy with the win, but disappointed with yet another slow first quarter by the Riptide.
“I am not sure why it is, but we have a habit of starting games poorly and going into a big hole. It is so hard to come back when you start with a deficit. The second quarter was so much better, but I have no idea what changed.”
“We need to find a way to start games better. I don’t know what it is going to take but we need to start out and get through the first quarter at least tied. If we can do that then I think we will have more success. Maybe all we need is more patience on offense early in the game, and then we’ll be fine.”
Teammate Ari Nitikman gave some credit for the win to most of the Riptide’s veteran core returning after missing the last few weeks due to national team obligations.
“Tonight was a tight game that was won on the defensive side. We started to stall them in the second quarter when we committed to playing tight defense and held ourselves accountable for our own check. Tim (Tsang) was on fire as usual and it made a huge difference having the leadership and skill of Morgan (Hibbert) and Brendan (Wong).”
Slow start aside, Hibbert really enjoyed playing in the game, and not just because his team won.
“It was a really exciting game! That is the biggest impression for sure. We were able to make some strategic adjustments defensively during the game which helped and several of our players stepped up their game with some excellent shutdown handler D that got us some stall count turnovers. The crowd was also amazing. The energy was so insane! We could really feel the fans and the energy and it made such a big difference out there for us.”
The Riptide are making another trip to California this weekend with games against the San Jose Spiders and the San Francisco Flamethrowers, two teams battling for first place in the division.
The next Vancouver Riptide home game is on Saturday June 3rd at 6 p.m. at South Surrey Athletic Park, where the Riptide will once again play host to the San Diego Growlers. You can buy tickets here.