Mere Millimetres from a Chance to Win
by Kaiz Bhatia
Photos by Jeff Bell
Trailing by four early in the second quarter, it was starting to seem that the AUDL game against the L.A. Aviators was too far out of reach for the Vancouver Riptide to win. Tremendous defensive pressure allowed the Riptide to get back in the game and even take the lead in the third quarter. Alas, their efforts would not be quite enough to pull out a win against a Los Angeles team that is fighting for the last playoff spot in the west, but it was another close game that the fans in the stands really enjoyed.
Amidst a province-wide heat wave, the stage was set for the Riptide (1-11) and the visiting Aviators (6-4) at Swangard Stadium. The fans were hopeful of seeing another win heading into this match, thanks to the return of veterans Morgan Hibbert, Brendan Wong, and Tim Tsang, absent during Week 12 action. However, the Riptide were once again without Gagan Chatha who was out due to an ankle injury suffered in last week’s game. Meanwhile, the Aviators were coming into town with the hope of getting ahead in the tight race for the final playoff spot in the West division.
The Riptide opened the scoring with Wong connecting with Peter Yu, but after starting off on the right foot the Riptide conceded three points in a row before a Tsang score put an end to the Aviators’ run. Tsang, usually known for throwing the scores, would score once more before Yu notched a buzzer beater to bring the Riptide within one. Going into the second, the Aviators led the Riptide 5-4
Los Angeles started the second frame by again scoring three straight goals to take an 8-4 lead, but just when it seemed that the Aviators were running away with the game, the Riptide responded with their own run of three scores in a row, courtesy of Brayden Gee, Peter Galbraith, and Kevin Greer. The Riptide were able to deny the Aviators a buzzer beater and closed out the half tied 10-10.
Coming out of the gate for the second half, the Riptide played some of their best defense of the season. They were shutting down all the cuts downfield, forcing the Aviators to continually reset the disc against tight handler defense, particularly from Peter Yu. The intense pressure on defense put the Aviators in some high-stall situations prompting them to put up 50/50 discs for the Riptide defense to snack on. Wong had two assists in the third quarter and Jordan Dhillon finished the frame with a goal and an assist. Again the Riptide and the Aviators ended a quarter tied, this time 16-16.
The teams went back and forth to start the fourth quarter. With the game tied at 17-17, the Aviators were able to string together one last run of three scores in a row to lead 20-17. It looked like they had all but won the game, but with only minutes remaining the Riptide still had some gas left in the tank, chalking up back to back scores by Yu and Trevor Knechtel to bring the Aviators’ lead down to a single goal. The Aviators then scored to take a two goal lead, but Wong connected with Peter Galbraith, making the score 21-20 in favour of the Aviators with less than a minute on the clock. The Riptide came out with a junk zone looking to force a turnover before Los Angeles could run out the clock, and that’s exactly what they did. Fred Lam was able to get a block near the Aviators goal line with just a few seconds remaining and put up a hammer in hopes of finding Galbraith for the tying score, but it was millimetres out of reach, making the final score, Los Angeles 21 Vancouver 20.
The Riptide’s Tim Tsang, Peter Yu, and Peter Galbraith had strong outings against Los Angeles. Standouts for the Aviators included Bryan Nguyen and Eric Lissner. Galbraith and Nguyen took the Player of the Game awards.
“I loved the intensity of the game.” said the Riptide’s Edward Guo. “We were able to use the numbers we had to our advantage and roll out fresh line after fresh line. I believe that was a big reason why we were able to dominate the 2nd and 4th quarters of the game. We played great individual defense throughout the game, and pushed each match-up to their brink.”
The Riptide’s defensive captain Alex Davis was satisfied with the game the team played without the disc.
“The defensive pressure was generally great. Aside from a few slips, we were generally tight to our match-ups, we denied easy cuts, and we contested passes.”
The Riptide are making a trip just south of the border this weekend for a game against the Seattle Cascades. The next and final home game of the season will be played on Sunday July 23rd at 2pm against the San Francisco Flamethrowers. Location is TBA, please check social media for more information.