The sun was shining, the skies were clear, and the Upper Island Riptide U14 girls soccer team showed up at the home turf on Saturday to make an impression in their first Vancouver Island Premier League (VIPL) game. That they did with a decisive 4-1 win over the Lower Island’s Juan de Fuca/Sooke team, creating an exciting start to the season.
Riptide dominated the play, using the entire field to their advantage.
They had possession of the ball for the majority of the first half and several opportunities to score but couldn’t find the back of the net until about 20 minutes in.
That’s when, after several precise passes from defenders and midfielders, Ciara Halvorson made a beautiful crossing pass to Sophie Denko who confidently scored the first goal.
Although Riptide continued to control the majority of the play, in the last minute of the first half, Juan de Fuca/Sooke was awarded a free kick just outside the 18 yard box. With a beautiful overhead kick, they scored their first goal.
The first half ended in a 1-1 tie.
The heat was on and the Riptide girls proved their physical conditioning (thanks in part to fitness trainer, Kelsey McCallan), starting the second half strong and continuing to control the play. Riptide defenders and midfielders were a force to be reckoned with, stopping the opposition from making any dangerous shots on net.
Within 10 minutes, Frédérica Blouin-Comeau scored with her signature left kick off a pass from Sara McLennan. Then Sara took it into her own hands, gaining possession in front of the net and making it count.
Later the team capitalized on Aisha Hunter-Bellavia’s powerful corner kick, when Autumn Lewis tapped it in amongst the flurry in front of the net, making the final score 4-1.
Throughout the game, Riptide displayed their strong ball-handling skills, stellar defending, smart passing, proactive attacking, physical play, and solid communication. With a combination of new and returning players (most played on Select teams together last year), the team’s bond is evident and has been nurtured by their dedicated coaching trio: Jim Stewart, Lisa Wigard and Matt Laver.
There are five teams in the U14 girls division of the VIPL this year, consisting of two from the Upper Island (Riptide and Storm) and three from the Lower Island (Juan de Fuca/Sooke, Saanich/Prospect and Gorge/Lakehill Thunder).
League play continues through the first week of February at which point VIPL A-Cup playdowns begin. Riptide U14 girls hope to earn their way to the A-Cup provincials in Surrey in July.
Proud to be part of the Upper Island Riptide franchise, led by technical director Shel Brodsgaard, the team looks forward to watching the success of their fellow U14-U18 Riptide teams in the league.
More information about the UI Riptide is available at www.upperislandriptide.com.
Upper Island Riptide U14 girls play their next game against the Upper Island Storm on Saturday Sept. 20.
To follow the team and share your support, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/riptide2001girls.