The Marine Harvest Riptide U14 Boys soccer team blanked the Saanich Fusion 5-0 on March 6 to advance to the Coastal A Cup (which will occur after the spring break) and then to the Provincials in July.
This was by far one of the best tactical games the Riptide boys played this year, a team spokesperson said. The parents and fans who came out to watch were entertained with intense game play, a little drama and some cheekiness from the moment the ref blew his whistle.
Saanich Fusion played aggressively in the first half, and almost had the upper hand, but that was quickly defused by the Riptide defence. Shutting down the Fusion strikers and redistributing the ball up the pitch contributed to the first goal of the game which came from Riptide outside wing Spencer Fleming. A beautiful use of speed and patience allowed him to sneak behind the Fusion defenders and unleash a deadly strike that found the back of the net.
The second goal came late in the first half, again from Fleming. The build-up from the back was once again the key to the success. The Fusion, now frustrated by the impenetrable Riptide defensive wall and superb goaltending, attempted to change the pace. “A combination of bumping and risky aggressive tactics backfired on Saanich and resulted in five yellow cards,” the Riptide spokesperson reported.
Late in the second half, a Fusion defender initiated an aggressive take down on a Riptide winger in the 18-yard box. A penalty kick was awarded to Riptide, who responded with a little attitude; Riptide striker Fergus Hall signalled to teammate Fleming, and instead of Hall striking the ball directly at the Fusion goal, he lightly tapped the ball to his left. Fleming ran onto the ball and laid a wicked strike that zipped by the goaltender, who was left with his hands raised above his head in disbelief.
“The goal was in response to the Fusion’s cheeky game play. It frustrated and exhausted any counter attack that Saanich had left,” the spokesperson noted.
Honourable mention to Fleming who came away with a hat trick, Alonzo Cortez with one goal, and Hall who snuck one past the goalkeeper in the dying minutes of the second half.
“Every player was very strong today,” said coach Steve Hall, adding “Opposition were finally broken down by pace and penetrating passes. A complete team game.”
“Congratulations to the coaching staff (Steve Hall, Sean Arbour, John Kalhous) and a tip of the hat to all the boys for representing the Upper Island Vancouver Island Premier League (VIPL) in the Provincials,” the spokesperson said.