The Riptide U14 Girls soccer team faced Nanaimo Storm in Ladysmith on Jan. 24 for their 11th game of the VIPL season. One point ahead of Storm going into this game, Riptide needed a win to move them closer to top spot for priority seeding in the VIPL A-Cup Playdowns which begin next month.
Both teams understood the importance of this game in the standings. With seven Riptide players either under the weather or injured, it would be their true grit, tenacity, and commitment to each other and to their coaches, that would pull them through.
As expected, the first half was intense with good flow to the game. Possession was fairly even amongst the two Upper Island teams. Riptide had two good scoring opportunities as did Storm. But both keepers held strong and kept the score tied at zero going into second half.
Riptide came out strong in the second half and controlled the flow of the game. About five minutes in, Riptide midfielders gained control of the ball and made a clear pass out to the left wing to find Frédérica Blouin-Comeau who used her speed to beat the Storm defender and score the first goal of the game.
Both teams continued their strong play and the flow of the game went back and forth for the second half. In the last 10 minutes, Storm put added pressure on the Riptide in an attempt to tie the game. Riptide keeper Nicolette Vinnedge made a critical save, covering the rebound as three Storm strikers were waiting to pounce on the ball for the tying goal.
Riptide stayed cool under pressure and was able to come away with a well-earned 1-0 victory. That win put Riptide four points ahead of Storm in the standings and in the running with Saanich for first place.
Without a doubt, the key factor in Riptide’s win was the stellar performance of their defensive line. Charlie Borrie was tasked with marking and shutting down Storm’s top strikers. Together with Lauren Wigard, Sarah Bard, Kayla Kalhous, Rosie Campbell, and Reilly Douglas, Riptide dug in to significantly limit the number of dangerous shots Storm would have on net. Without this effort, one goal would not have been enough to win the game against this strong team.
“It was another gritty team effort to pull off this victory,” noted coach Jim Stewart after the game. “Our girls are peaking at the right time with four straight wins and the last two have been clutch victories against top teams.”
Stewart went on to say that, “We want to maintain this momentum and high level of play, and a win in our last scheduled league game next Saturday would be a great way to do this. But win or lose, our coaching staff, including Lisa Wigard, Matt Laver and myself, are very proud of what they have accomplished already this season. The girls are really starting to believe in themselves while building a strong but humble confidence.”
Next, Riptide faces Gorge/Lakehill Thunder in the final league game of the season. Come out to the Comox Valley Turf field at noon on Saturday, Jan. 31 to cheer on Riptide. A win will secure first place! For more information about the Riptide U14 Girls soccer team, sponsored by Lacasse Construction, visit the team’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/riptide2001girls.
– Riptide U14 Girls