Riptide Rolling into Surrey
by Scott Lewis
Photos by Jeff Bell
For their last Home Away From Home Game, the Vancouver Riptide gave Victoria its first taste of professional ultimate. This weekend, they’ll be bringing the AUDL experience to Surrey for the first time.
In fact, this might as well be Ultimate Week in Surrey.
Last Saturday, the Mixed versions of the Riptide and the Seattle Cascades played a barnburner in front of a big crowd in Newton, with the Riptide squeaking out a narrow win. (The photos interspersed through this article were taken by Jeff Bell at that game.)
And Saturday night’s Riptide game against San Diego Growlers will be played at South Surrey Athletic Park, smack in the middle, both in timing and in location, of the Lower Mainland’s most prestigious club tournament. Flower Bowl, which is closing in on its thirtieth anniversary, has a strong line-up this year, featuring the likes of Furious George, Traffic, Rhino, DYNA, and Sockeye. You can get more info about Flower Bowl here
Many of the Flower Bowl participants will be coming to the Riptide game after Flower Bowl play is finished for the day. We suggest you do the same. Head out to Surrey earlier in the day to take in some club ultimate, and then join the players you just watched as they unwind at the Riptide game.
You can get more information about South Surrey Athletic Park here.
Given their 1-9 record to date, will the Riptide deliver a good game to this discerning audience? Perhaps, surprisingly, the odds look favourable.
First, the team has been playing better of late. Their last home game, also against San Diego, delivered that sole win, a thrilling last second 27-26 triumph in overtime. And their most recent games, both on a road trip to the Bay Area, featured a very close loss to the division leading San Jose Spiders, who have lost only one game all season. Admittedly, the next day the Riptide were trounced by San Francisco, but they were tired and short handed, something that won’t be an issue this Saturday.
In a season where she has had to deal with a number of injuries and players being unavailable due to commitments to university teams and the Canadian World Games team, which will be taking the field in Poland next month, Coach Tasia Balding will for the first time all season have pretty close to a full roster to draw on. (Balding is also the Assistant Coach for Canada’s WG team.)
“We’re still a bit far away from World Games,” said Balding. “so resting players for that is not in the cards yet. The taper period for that will be early July.”
One eagerly awaited return to the roster is occurring this weekend at a most a propos location. Riptide mainstay Gagan Chatha, a Surrey guy through and through, has missed all but one game this season due to injury, but proved during last weekend’s Mixed game that he is back to fitness.
“Yes, Gagy will be rostered for sure,” said Balding. “He’s moving like his early season ankle injury is but a faint memory, so I’m looking forward to him showing us his stuff.
And it is quite some stuff he has to show. Check it out here.
Besides dealing with all those injuries plus having to keep veterans fresh for the World Games, it hasn’t been an easy season for Balding, who has had to juggle the competing demands of winning vs. developing so many young players on a team currently going through a generational change. Of course, that balance is more straightforward now that the AUDL playoffs are out of reach, at least till next year. It’s all about next year, and the years after that.
“The final part of the season will be about the future, team improvement, and achieving some individual goals,” said Balding. “That said, we’ve been practicing a couple of new looks on D, so this game will be a good chance to test them out.”.
Yes, the Riptide are currently a team of the future; this Saturday will give us a good look at how close that future might be. One thing we know about this team; they never stop playing as hard as they can.
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.