The U16 Upper Island Riptide boys soccer team defeated one of their main rivals, Saanich Fusion, 2-1 on Sunday, Feb. 7.
This away game was the last match of the regular season for the Riptide, who will face the same team in the first round of the VIPL A-Cup playdowns.
From the previous matches these teams played against each other in this 2015-2016 season the record stood at two wins for Saanich and one tie. All of these games were close and the VIPL standings going into the game illustrated this fact: Saanich sat in second place and the Riptide in third.
Factoring in the drive from the North Island, Sunday’s 12 p.m. kick-off at Tyndall Field meant many of the Riptide players had an early start to their day. This may have had something to do with the squad’s flat start as they seemed to lack energy and were unusually quiet.
These deficiencies led to delays in attacking Saanich on the first touch. With about five minutes left in the first half Saanich scored and took that lead into the break.
The Riptide started communicating more actively to start the second half and moved the ball much better in both ends of the field. These adjustments made a big difference.
About 10 minutes into the half Darren Hall worked hard to get the ball to an open Dawson Kipp, who made a nice pass to Charlie Purcell in front of the net. Purcell fought to get his foot on the ball and trickled it by the goalie.
With this marker the overall vitality of the Riptide team was significantly increased. The Riptide players pushed the pace, creating a number of scoring chances.
Saanich had a couple of corner kicks that could have led to a goal(s) but the Riptide’s always on-point defence and goalie Gary Thiara prevented any scoring.
Near the 25th minute mark, Port Hardy’s Jaylon Grenier notched a second goal for the Riptide. A feisty Jack Crosby and a perfectly positioned Ethan Wong assisted this key goal.
For the remainder of the game the Riptide players maintained their cool as Saanich pushed hard for an equalizer. But the Riptide stayed true to their game plan, maintained a strong focus, and communicated well to ultimately win the match.
Head coach Mark Purcell had only compliments for his players after the game. “I want the team to take the time to appreciate this win today. We have finished the season very well and now focus our attention on playoffs. This was our first comeback of the year and showed the true grit of this Riptide team. I’m very proud.”
The Riptide they now have a two-week break to prepare for the VIPL A-Cup playdowns. With Saanich as their first-round opponent, it’s bound to be an exciting match. Game time and field TBD. Check www.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 Riptide 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 …