Fifteen games into the VIPL regular season, the Marine Harvest Upper Island Riptide U15 girls soccer team holds onto top spot with one home game remaining.
Riptide played Juan de Fuca in Langford Saturday for their final away game of the regular season. After two years of playing games at the City Center Park/Westhills Stadium venue with tie results, this time Riptide broke through with a 1-0 win.
Notable were Autumn Lewis and Georgia Walkus who both usually play out, but filled in to share the keeper role and make some big saves in this game. With the support of Riptide’s consistently solid defensive line, including Sarah Bard, Rosie Campbell, and Kayla Kalhous plus Abby Sexton who rotated in from her usual position, the duo earned the team’s ninth clean sheet of the season.
Riptide controlled most of the play, scoring early in the first half when Ciara Halvorson was fed a beautiful ball through the midfield and beat the Juan de Fuca keeper.
Supported in the midfield by Lauren Wigard, Kaitlyn Dreger, and Aisha Hunter-Bellavia, and taking advantage of the full field, Riptide built quick and precise passing runs up the wings to agile strikers like Kristen Clair to create multiple scoring opportunities throughout the game.
Memorable was a cannonball left-footed kick from Riptide left-winger Frédérica Blouin-Comeau that echoed when it hit the goal post.
Riptide continued to set the pace of the game, holding the ball in the opponent’s end for 30 out of 40 minutes in the second half.
With league playdowns just around the corner, both teams agreed to practise their penalty kicks thanks to the kindness of the referee and linesmen who stayed after the game to make the process feel more official. Such gestures speak to the heart of the game and mean so much in the spirit of player development.
On Feb. 6, Riptide faces Storm for their final regular season game. Two weeks later, single-knockout VIPL A-Cup Playdowns begin. The winner will earn the Island berth in the Provincials.
For more information about Riptide’s elite soccer program, visit them online at riptidesoccer.ca.