The VIPL’s Marine Harvest Riptide U16 Boy’s soccer team has endured a bumpy start to their 2015-2016 season.
Coming off a second place finish at the BC Provincial Championships in the summer, the Riptide team taking the field since September has been battling a steady stream of injuries and sickness. Fortunately, these issues resolved themselves last week. The team taking the field on Oct. 11 at Comox Valley Turf was happy to finally play as a healthy squad.
The timing couldn’t have been better. Playing Gorge/Lakehill always makes for a very tough match and Gorge/Lakehill won soundly (4-1) when the teams met in Victoria on Sept. 13.
Going into the game, head coach Mark Purcell, commented, "I’m going to ask the boys to put aside all the off-field distractions as of late and really focus on team work and positivity. These players are very supportive of one another and have a lot of heart so I know they’ll give 110 per cent today.”
The team took Purcell’s words seriously. Right from the opening whistle the Riptide played with intensity and grit. Both teams were very tactical and the action was end to end. At the five-minute mark, Riptide defender Dylan Robertson made a rush down the sidelines before chipping the ball to teammate Eugene Park who, with perfect placement, headed the ball to the back of the net.
Following the goal Gorge/Lakehill picked up their intensity. The Riptide followed suit. Riptide goalie Gary Thiara made some wonderful saves to keep the team up 1-0 through the middle of the half. Then with five minutes left a Thiara goal kick was picked up nicely by Jack Crosby deep in the opponent’s end. Crosby made a quick pass to striker Cullen Buholzer who got off a great shot for another Riptide goal. It remained 2-0 for the Riptide at the half.
The second half offered more high quality, entertaining soccer for the fans of both teams, as each player on the field gave their best effort on every play. Midway through the half, on a corner kick by the Riptide’s Eugene Park, Tanner Kempe scored a beautiful header. The Riptide supporters' celebration was cut short though when this goal was disallowed. Officials deemed the ball curved out of bounds when it left Park’s foot.
Adding to drama of the game, minutes after this corner Gorge/Lakehill scored a goal making it 2-1 and putting the pressure on the Riptide to hold on to their lead. Staying cool under pressure and moving the ball with precision allowed the Riptide to finish with a 2-1 win.
“I’m so proud of the teamwork displayed on the field today and the boys should be very proud of themselves too," Purcell said. "This win was pretty important to our team and it will most definitely give us a boost.”
The Marine Harvest Upper Island Riptide has a bye this coming weekend. Their next game is against the Upper Island Storm on Oct. 25 at home. Game time TBD. Check leaguelineup.com/VIPL/ for details.
THROW INS The U16 Marine Harvest Upper Island Riptide Boy’s soccer team plays in the Vancouver Island Premier League (VIPL) … the VIPL consists of high-level teams from Lower Island Soccer Association and Upper Island Soccer Association … the U16 team is comprised of players from the Comox Valley, Campbell River, Quadra Island, Powell River, and Port Hardy … this team has made the Provincials every year since joining the league – winning the crown in 2014 and placing second in 2015 …